The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) defines intellectual property as “creations of the mind, such as inventions, literacy and artistic works, designs and symbols, names and images used in commerce.”
According to Wikipedia, an encyclopaedia, intellectual property has two types of rights; industrial property rights and copyright. The former pertains to trademarks, patents, designs, models and other such creations while the latter pertains to granting the creator of an original work the authority to determine if, when and by whom the work may be used.
In Rwanda, intellectual property is protected under Law N° 31/2009 of 26/10/2009 and Law N° 50/2018 of 13/08/2018 Amending Law N° 31/2009 Of 26/10/2009 on The Protection of Intellectual Property.
Article 1 of Law N° 31/2009 of 26/10/2009 provides categories of people whose intellectual property shall be protected. These include inventors, innovators, creators of industrial designs, creators of layout designs of integrated circuits, creators of distinctive signs used in trade, authors of literary, artistic and scientific works, performers, phonogram producers and other authors and creators of original intellectual content.
Law N° 31/2009 of 26/10/2009 on the Protection of Intellectual Property also protects owners of distinctive signs used in trade and broadcasting organizations. In order to protect their ideas or products creators seek a patent. A patent, according to the Business Dictionary, is “limited legal monopoly granted to an individual or firm to make use and sell its invention, and to exclude others from doing so.”
The right to patent in Rwanda is granted under article 19 of the Law on Protection of Intellectual Property. However, a patent owner can be deprived of his/her rights if the product is not available in Rwanda, if the product does not meet the required standards in Rwanda, if it not available in sufficient quantities or if the price is deemed unfair by the Minister. This is according to article 40 of the Law on Protection of Intellectual Property.
There can also be extinction of patent rights for regulation of anticompetitive practices in the interest of the public. Article 41 of the Law on Protection of Intellectual Property provides other limitations on patents. The duration of a patent, according to article 42 of the Law on Protection of Intellectual Property is 20 years. An annual fee is paid to maintain the patent.
To prohibit the theft of intellectual property, Law N° 31/2009 of 26/10/2009 and Law N° 50/2018 of 13/08/2018 Amending Law N° 31/2009 Of 26/10/2009 on The Protection of Intellectual Property sets punishment for infringing on industrial property rights and copyright.
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