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Intellectual Property and the Youth

Friday, April 29th, 2022

Intellectual property and the youth

The year 2022 is slowly becoming the year of creativity stemming from the growth of creative content that peaked at the start of the pandemic. If you have paid any attention to your phones or any of your digital devices over the past two years, you will notice that the youth today are taking more initiative to create and embrace their creative power on various platforms, especially on social media.

It is no wonder this year, Intellectual Property day has honoured IP and the youth in a whole new way. With the youth continuously stepping into various innovation spaces more than they have ever before, young inventors, creators, and entrepreneurs will need to use their intellectual property (IP) rights to achieve their goals, generate income, create jobs, tackle local and global challenges and support community and national development. Gen Z is taking the world by storm.

The majority of the population in Uganda is under the age of 35 and if that is not enough there is a continued rise in unemployment. Though we covered intellectual property rights a few weeks ago, it is useless if youth have no practical ways to use these rights to their advantage. Question is, what hinders the youth and young entrepreneurs in Uganda use the IP rights to create their pathway for a better future?

Intellectual property is a key aspect for economic development

Craig Venter

It should be noticed that the majority of the youth going into entrepreneurship and creative works are unaware of the importance that intellectual property rights give them. In simple terms, they devalue its importance. Even though it is commonly said that ignorance is bliss, in this case, ignorance is detrimental. It is vital for any young entrepreneur especially in the creative space to register their IP for the sole purpose of protection.

Commonly today and in Uganda, many ideas are copied by other individuals and though IP registration does not allow exclusivity for eternity, it does award the owner protection from copycats and creates a legal avenue for one to gain recourse from the courts of law. If more individuals fathomed the importance of having their intellectual property registered, more individuals would be open to innovating rather than copying ideas from others. 

Lack of faith in the system and exploitation of creative works have caused young entrepreneurs to take a back seat to the registration of their IP. We have all had moments in our lives where the system has let us down. After all, fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice shame on us. There is no full-proof system, however, cultural influence has a huge part to play in this mistrust. Our culture doesn’t encourage or promote diversity in ideas.

The majority of the youth are encouraged to do the same old thing and discouraged from venturing into ideas that promote innovation and creativity. If a young entrepreneur has an idea, it is on us to create room for them to venture into different ways to bring it to life. Many innovators are waiting for various projects and sponsors to fund inventions before they create which leads to the exploitation of individuals.

Credit: WIPO

There is a misconception that it is expensive to register intellectual property, which is far from reality. In Uganda, registration of intellectual property tools is quite affordable, however, young entrepreneurs believe that they would have to spend an arm and a leg to be able to achieve this. Young innovators are in dire need of skilling. This will provide them with practical means and information on how to protect their creations. 

The expected and much-needed guidance from the URSB is not given. Several entrepreneurs are ill-advised and uninformed about the procedures required to register their Intellectual property and the persons at the registry have not adequately offered assistance. It is at this point that a gap is created and ideas are stolen. There is a need for this to be rectified.

Luckily, ABM offers opportunities for business and IP registration. Furthermore, we have pro bono opportunities for individuals who require free legal advice concerning the same. These services are specialised and there is a required application and procedure to be followed, but once one is chosen, they are awarded free legal information from the firm. Uganda has created several laws that aim at protecting and utilising these intellectual property tools, all that is left is for young innovators to seize the moment, keep creating and use these tools to their advantage.