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Intellectual Property Rights Law and Innovation in Uganda: The Need for a Coherent Policy Framework

E Tabaro


Innovation has been recognised as a major source
of modern productivity and constitutes a central
process of economic development and in the case of
developing countries, poverty reduction. However,
Sub-Saharan Africa, and particular Uganda, has been
left out in innovation because of the concentration
of its intellectual property legislation processes on
the transfers of technology that does not take the
deliberate and conscious effort in building indigenous
capacity in innovation and inventiveness. This paper
entails a discussion an analysis of the factors shaping
patent law reforms in Uganda in the absence of a
national system of innovation and thus exposes the
disjuncture of patent legislation with the national
system of innovation. It is argued, herein, that for
the reforms to be more meaningful, there is need for
harmonization of the two processes, lest the reform
process will be irrelevant to Uganda and continue
serving global north patent interests.
As a colony of Britain, Uganda adopted her
patent law from England as part of the colonial
heritage (Uganda was put under British influence
following the Anglo-German Agreement of 1800).
A Royal Chartered company trading in the name
and style of Imperial British East African Company
(IBEACO) was at the earliest tasked with trading as
well as administering the geographical extent that
came to be known as Uganda. In 1894, Capt. Fredrick
Lugard a colonial administrator was sent and
formally declared Uganda a British Protectorate. The
interest of the British was at the onset imperialist, tied
to economic exploitation. This economic imperialism
arrested the autonomous development of Uganda
and divorced it into an integrated world commodity
economy as Nabudere aptly puts it: