Intellectual PropertyTypes Of Trademarks In Kenya


To answer the question of the types of trademarks in Kenya, we have to begin with an analysis of the applicable law.

The Applicable Law and Definitions

In Kenya registration of trademarks is governed by the Trademarks Act, Cap 506 Laws of Kenya.

A trademark is defined as a sign used or intended to be used to distinguish goods or services dealt with or provided in the course of trade by a person from goods or services so dealt with or provided by any other person.

A sign is deemed to include any letter, word, name, signature, numerical device, brand, heading, label, ticket, aspect of packaging, shape, colour, sound, or scent.

Types of Trademarks in Kenya

The following are various types of trademarks that can be registered in Kenya:

  1. Certification trademarks
  2. Collective trademarks
  3. Well-known marks.
  4. Service marks.

Certification Trade Marks are marks used to identify products that comply with a set of standards and have been certified by a certifying authority. Certification marks are given for compliance with defined standards but are not confined to any membership.

Certification marks may be used by anyone who can certify that the products involved meet certain established standards.

An important requirement for certification marks is that the entity which applies for registration is considered competent to certify the products concerned, an example of certification trademarks is the diamond mark used by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

Collective Trade Marks is also a form of trademark that can be registered in Kenya. It is owned by an association or a cooperative whose members may use the collective mark to market their products.

The association generally establishes a set of criteria for using the collective mark examples of collective marks are the Taita Baskets Association mark or the Institute of Chartered Accountants mark.

Well-known marks are marks that are considered to be well known by the competent authority of the country where protection for the mark is sought.

Kenya as a member of the World Trade organization was required to provide legal protection for well-known marks. In August 2002, the Trademarks Act was amended to provide for well-known marks.

Well-known marks generally benefit from stronger protection.

The main purpose of this stronger protection is to prevent companies from free-riding on the reputation of a well-known mark and/or causing damage to its reputation and goodwill, an example of a well-known mark in Kenya is the East African Breweries’ Tusker Lager trademark.

Service marks are marks used to identify those certain services that are to be provided by specific enterprises. A service mark is very similar in nature to a trademark in that both are distinctive signs.

Trademarks distinguish the goods of one enterprise from those of another, while service marks fulfill the same function in relation to services.

Service may be of any kind, such as financial, banking, advertising, etc.

A sign is deemed to include any letter, word, name, signature, numerical device, brand, heading, label, ticket, aspect of packaging, shape, colour, sound, or scent.

Even though registration is not a mandatory requirement in Kenya, using a mark for a certain length of time can establish your ownership through Common Law it is still highly advisable to register a trademark.

Contact us today to get our legal advice on how to register a trademark and what advantages registration brings to you, your brand, and your business.

We also offer trademark litigation for protection against any infringement on trademarks you and your business own which means that we are able to provide both legal advice and protection for all your intellectual property assets.

Find out more about what Intellectual Property legal services can be offered to you or your business, by contacting our law practice at +254 20 2100 999 or email us at [email protected].

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