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


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: