Photo credit: The Fashion Law.

The law protects the fashion itself and designs. It is the easiest way business property can be protected using the Industrial Properties Act 2014.

The protection designers choose is the Patent, utility model or industrial design and Copyright protection which is limited in a sense.

Before any thing can have protection, under the patent system, it must be Novel, involve an inventive step and have an industrial application. All three characters must exist for a patent to be granted. The authors of the Act, having realised the difficulty in satisfying the requirements of the Act, set the less rigorous protection of utility models and industrial designs.

If fashion designers fail to get patent protection, they can apply for a utility model or industrial design or both. For any thing to qualify for protection as a utility model, it should be new have an industrial application. While an industrial design should be new only.

Ugandan inventions have been communal in ownership, exploitation and use. They have have been used for centuries as the culture has existed. This aspect has its own apologetics who argue that Intellectual Property legislation in underdeveloped countries are under-utilised because they failed to take into consideration, the cultural history and nature of intellectual property, in such countries such as Uganda. The imposition of a copy paste legislation, has now fully moved from colonial times, to neo-coloniolistic capitalism. This is not good for us. But we cannot negotiate because our soft power money is not deep.

The Act is a capital one. It thrives in environments of high level capitalism, good education and nurturing. Uganda doesn’t have that.

Infact , our innovative powers are so low. Samson Mugarura, the Makerere University student who allegedly ‘invented’ tear gas actually never made something new. He duplicated the industrial process that was already available and used only one raw material, sugar, and some scattered foods around. Infact tear gas is made out of eight raw materials which are, Charcoal, Potassium nitrate, Silicon, Sucrose, Potassium chlorate, Magnesium carbonate, O-Chlorobenzalmalononitrile, nitrocellulose. Leave Kiira-EV car aside. Do we need Patents in Uganda. Maybe not for the mean time.

For fashion and designs, if Ugandans are innovative enough, the patents system can be used.

The Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act 2006 provides for a limited protection of Copyright to some fashion designs. Section 5 (1) (f) provides for works of applied art, whether handicraft or produced on industrial scale, and works of all types of designing.

Depending on how a case is presented protection of fashion under the patent system or copyright can be accepted. Present a good case.

The Kampala Law Monthly Magazine.

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