- The Standard
A public plea by Miguna Miguna attracted a response from the right quarters after the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) president, Nelson Havi, took it up.
On Sunday, April 12, Miguna asked Nelson Havi via Twitter to ensure the 16 Kenyatta University students who assembled ventilators had their innovation patented promptly.
"Let me congratulate the 16 Kenyatta University (KU) students who have assembled 500,000 prototype medical ventilators as their contribution to the fight against Covid-19 pandemic. President Nelson Havi: register and protect these students' patents against despotic cannibalism. Viva!" Miguna's tweet reads.Lawyers Nelson Havi (left) and Charles Kanjama (right) at the Nairobi Legal Awards, Nairobi County, in May 2018
Havi heeded the call and asked the gifted students to reach out to him so he could register their patent and protect them against those who did not have their best interest at heart.
"Could the 16 Kenyatta University students who have assembled 500,000 prototype medical ventilators quickly get in touch with us. We need to protect your invention before some of those 90 years old Youthful Government Officers deprive you of your right," responded the LSK President.
Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke Havi stated the 16 students were walking a similar path to notable greats like Albert Einstein and would thus be in a position to register intellectual property rights over their invention.
"Albert Einstein invented many things while at the university and those are not attributed to the university they are attributed to him," stated Havi.
"There is no preclusion in law for a student in an institution of higher learning from registering an intellectual property right over an invention, they are entitled to do that," he added.
The LSK president affirmed that there was a need to protect the interests of the students just as scientists out of the country were going to protect theirs.
"In the United States, scientists are looking for vaccines, they will protect those vaccines. Big pharmaceutical companies are looking for vaccines, they will protect them. The government will have to negotiate to get the vaccines. By similar measure the students are entitled to protect their invention," asserted Havi.
The city lawyer highlighted the necessity of legal protection by pointing out the opportunistic landscape of the country.
"This is Kenya, everyone comes up with an idea and it's always taken up by those who didn't participate in making it. That is why we have the law to protect inventions that come from the labour of those who want to discover," he stated.
Havi explained that he would not undertake the registering of the patent himself but would instead guide another lawyer in handling the process.
"I won't register the patent myself but as a leader, I'll get an expert in industrial property law who I will instruct to ensure that their rights are registered speedily," confirmed Havi.
Ordinarily, an invention belongs to the institution under which it is created. The ventilator would have thus belonged to Kenyatta University had it been manufactured during the normal course of studies.
However, as schools and universities were closed and the ventilator was manufactured during an emergency, the 16 students could claim rights to the innovation.
Watch a video of the KU ventilator prototype below:fight
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