Information from Rwanda Commercial Registration Services Agency (RCRSA) indicates that Rwandans show little interest in intellectual property rights registration. It is mostly foreign companies and individuals who have registered their intellectual property in Rwanda. The registration gives protection from counterfeits and piracy.
“Rwandans have not yet embraced registering their intellectual property due to the mentality of not adopting this idea, but we are optimistic that they will come out to register as time goes on,” Desire Makuza, the officer in charge of Industrial property said at his Remera Office.
He revealed that 6,168 industrial property rights had been registered since the office was established late last year. Without providing detailed statistics of how many Rwandans have registered their industrial property, Makuza said local industrial property registration is only about 25 percent.
Makuza gave an example of 114 patents registered; five were from the rest of Africa, two of them are local and 3 from Burundi while the rest are from other continents.
According to Makuza, only 6,025 trademarks and 29 industrial designs have been registered.
“Mostly foreigners have registered because they have picked that culture,” Makuza added. The available international statistics range from 1963 to 2008.
Makuza warned that as Rwanda opens up to the East African Community, conmen may counterfeit or pirate intellectual property belonging to Rwandans causing unfair competition commercially.
On the side of copyright registration, Blaise Ruhima Mbaraga, in charge of copyrights, said that only 49 had been registered before and after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis. Most were for music, movies, drama and books.
The protection of the intellectual property is contained in the laws of February 25,1963 and ministerial decree n0 27/1983 of November 15, 1983.
There is also regulation on the repression of the acts of unfair competition dating from February 24, 1950.
This rather old legislation has just been removed to fit in today’s environment and the draft law which is underway has been adopted by the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies and will soon be published.
The Intellectual Property Rights is an expression which indicates works of the spirit inventions, arts and emblems, names and images in trade.
An adequate protection of the intellectual property encourages creativity and development of new techniques and new products prevention from distortions and obstacles to the free trade.