Patents, Industrial designs and Utility Models
A patent is an exclusive right granted by the government for an invention, which is either a product or process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. The exclusive rights help inventors to prevent others from taking advantage of their ideas and inventions.
A patent provides protection for a limited period of time normally 20 years to an inventor for a new product or process in return for the disclosure of their invention. Disclosure of inventions encourages innovation as the public is able to learn from existing technologies and be able to make improvements; the small improvements have led to the tremendous change in the way we live.
Examples of inventions: Chemical formula, blood pressure measuring instrument, safety pin, method of processing fresh vacuum sealed bananas(matooke), ball point pen, electric iron.
An invention doesn’t have to be complex to be patented; it just has to be a solution to an existing problem.
Criteria for granting a patent
In order to be patentable, an invention must meet the following three criteria:
It must be novel (new)
It must involve an inventive step(not obvious to a person skilled in the relevant field of technology)
It must be capable of industrial application (useful)
The subject matter must be accepted as patentable under the Uganda’s Industrial Property Act, 2014.
Matters excluded from Patentability
A discovery, scientific theory or mathematical method is excluded from patentability, but its application or use can be patentable
Methods of doing business for example method of book keeping, trading stocks are not patentable
Diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical methods for the treatment of humans and animals.
Inventions contrary to public order, morality, public health and safety, principles of humanity and environmental conservation.
A Utility Model just like a patent is also provides exclusive rights to inventors and innovators for their new products and processes. The requirements for granting a Utility Model are less stringent compared to those of patent protection.
For the Utility Model, the requirement of a product or process having an inventive step is not considered. Utility Model protection is for shorter period of time normally 10 years.
An industrial design is the aesthetic aspect of a useful object. Industrial designs protect the appearance of a useful object. An industrial design may consist of three dimensional features, such as the shape of an article, or two dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or color. For example; a mineral water bottle, a pattern or a cloth like akitengé, the shape of a car etc.
Patent Application Process
1. Filing patent application with national patent office (URSB)
2. Formalities examination
3. Substantive examination
4. Grant/reject of Patent
A complete patent application at filing should have: letter requesting for patent protection, filled patent application form (gives information about applicant) and a patent document (gives information about the invention).
The patent document comprises:
(i). Title (Simple, precise related to field of invention)
(ii). Abstract (Summary of invention)
(iii). Description (Fully detailed)
(iv). Claims (Scope of protection-what is basically protected)
(v). Drawings if any
Formalities examination involves checking if the patent application is in order, receipt of payment of application fees, Power of Attorney for applicants with legal representation.
Substantive examination is carried out to establish if the invention satisfies the patentability requirements (that is, it is new, has an inventive step (not obvious) and has use)
If the invention fulfills all requirements for patentability, a patent is granted. In the case where the invention does not fulfill all requirements for patentability, the applicant may be advised to amend the application (claims) or the application is rejected.
One can file a patent application with either URSB or with the Regional Intellectual Property Office
(ARIPO) which receives applications and grants patents on behalf of its member states.
Fees for Patent Application
Maintenance fees 48,000/- for 1st annuity (Additional 12,000/- for each subsequent year)
Conversion of patent application to utility model application 12,000
Law governing the grant of patents, Utility models and Industrial designs in Uganda
The governing law is the Industrial Property Act, 2014
Technology and Innovation Support Centers
Technology and Innovation Support Centers (TISCs) are designed to provide innovators with access to locallybased, high quality technology informationservices and other related services.
Within the context of a joint engagement with national and regional industrial property authorities, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) (link to the WIPO site) supports the effective operation of TISCs by:
Facilitating access to patent databases and other scientific and technology resources
Training local users through on-site anddistance learning
Providing information and training materials
Supporting awareness-raising activities
Disseminating best practices and experiences among TISCs
Support services are designed to promote access and effective use of valuable sources of technical and commercial information, such as patent information, scientific and technical journals, trademark and industrial design information, etc.
Basic services available from all TISCs include:
Access to online patent and non-patent (scientific and technical) resources
Access to industrial property-related publications
Assistance in searching and retrieving technology information
Additional services provided by selected TISCs may include:
Training in searching databases
On-demand searches (novelty, state-of-theart, and infringement)
Technology and competitor monitoring
Basic information on industrial property laws
Basic information on industrial propertymanagement and strategy
Basic information on technology commercialization and marketing
African Regional Intellectual Property Organization
World Intellectual Property Organization