Kenyan trademark law has recently undergone reform. The enactment of the Companies Act 2015 and Companies (General) Regulations 2015 has resulted in a change in practice for the Kenyan Industrial property Institute.
The Institute now has the obligation to examine the occurrence of pre-existing trademarks when it assesses the name of a company. Indeed, the name of a company should be refused if it is considered as offensive or undesirable: the name of a company will be considered as such if it includes a trademark which has already been registered.
However, it is possible to bypass this requirement by seeking the consent of the holder of the pre-existing trademark and requesting to be able to register the company name, despite the pre-existing registered trademark.
Finally, the Office’s obligation in terms of the company name does not apply the other way round: the Kenyan Industrial Property Institute need not examine pre-existing company names when evaluating applications for trademarks.