Nyakundi and Mnjama -Part 5
In the area of records creation the study discovered that active creators of patent information in Kenya are industrialists, small and medium enterprises, scientists and, to a small extent, herbalists. It is clear from the findings that Kenyan applicants for patents in the last ten years are less than half of the foreign applicants. The reason is that the process of applying for patent protection is expensive and time consuming. Another reason is that publicity of patent information has not been effective and many people are unaware of patent records and the functions of KIPO.
This study also sought to find out what types of patent records are available at KIPO. The study revealed that patent records available fall into eight fields, the largest being the field of human related activities. The other fields include: operations; chemistry; textile; constructions; mechanical; physics and electrical. It was found that the eight fields cover all the areas of technology, science and arts. This study recommends that KIPO as a Patent Office should include the field of traditional knowledge and medicine which is a major component of the practices of the indigenous and local communities to be registered.
Arrangement and storage of patent records
In the area of records storage and environmental conditions for patent records at KIPO, the study revealed that the department experiences several problems which include:
- Lack of compliance with acceptable standards pertaining to records management, especially in terms of record creation and maintenance. Materials of any quality are used with very little control of the storage environment. Records are scattered in available space without due reference to suitability. The handling and care of patent records needs major improvement. To secure records for the future, this study recommends that they must not only be created on durable materials, but they must be stored in suitable conditions as stipulated in such standards as ISO 11799 (Document storage requirements for archive and library materials) and ASTM D 3208-86 (Standard Specification for Manifold Papers for Permanent Records). The old adage "catch them young" comes in handy and should be the key phrase for the Directors, Patent Examiners, Librarians, records managers and patent information users at KIPO in order to salvage the situation.
- The study has also shown that KIPO is using some standard storage equipment such as open metal shelves, wooden shelves, steel drawer cabinets and wooden cabinets. The only problem with this equipment is that they are untidy, dusty, old and most of them are unlockable. This study recommends that this equipment should be well–maintained and serviced regularly.
- The study has also revealed that KIPO lacks a post of a qualified records manager. This study recommends the establishment of a post of records manager who will be responsible for the management, storage and retrieval of patent records. Moreover, the study has observed that storage especially for patent information is inadequate. This study recommends that suitable storage space for patent records and patent keepers be provided.
- The study has also indicated that patent records in the registry are currently arranged on the shelves in a numerical order and certificate numbers are written on the shelves to guide the users. Most of these are ignored and only resorted to when there is need to refer to them. This study recommends that patent documents should be stored in drawer cabinets and open shelves and arranged according to the IPC number and the country. Patents of one family should be stored together in either a drawer cabinet or open shelf arranged according to IPC and filed in a numerical order within each sub-group. Abstracts should be glued or copied on a large sheet before storing them in box files.
- This study further revealed that most of the patent records are stored in paper files and bound volumes. This study recommends that since paper occupies a lot of space, there is need for more of electronic storage methods like CD-ROM and microfilm. As KIPO is currently automating its activities, automation of patent records should be given priority. Automation will make the operations of the library and patent registry easier, faster and more efficient resulting in increased user satisfaction.
In the Library Section the study revealed that the Library collection is made up of patent documents and non–patent documents. Patent documents include abstracts and journals. The abstracts comprise of Korean Patent and Trademarks Abstracts, Australian Patent and Trademark Abstracts and European Patent and Trademark Abstracts. The journals include the Official Journal of Patents, Patent and Trademark Journal,,Patent and Industrial Design Journal, World Directory Journal, Industrial Property Monthly Journal and expired patent information documents. For non-patent documents, the materials include general books on such areas as biology, chemistry, physics, electrical, engineering, computer science, human resource management and dictionaries. The Library also contains scientific newsletters, laws of Kenya, conference proceedings, seminar papers and general works on intellectual property.