How to Patent an Idea in Kenya – The A-Z

When it comes to protecting your innovative ideas, obtaining a patent is crucial. A patent grants you exclusive rights to your invention and prevents others from using, selling, or manufacturing it without your permission.

Patents play a critical role in fostering innovation and protecting intellectual property. By obtaining a patent, inventors can safeguard their ideas and enjoy the exclusive rights to their inventions. However, the process of patenting an idea can be complex and varies from country to country.

What is the cost of a patent?

The costs of patenting may vary depending on the patent agents, depending on the agent fees. However, the minimum fees to file an application in Kenya applicable, include:

  • Filing fees of Ksh 3000 – due on filing of application
  • Publication fee of Ksh 3000 – due 18 months from the filing date;
  • Examination fee of Ksh 5,000 – due within 3 years from filing date;
  • Grant fee of Ksh 3000 – due upon acceptance of grant of the patent.

Types of Patents in Kenya

In Kenya, there are different types of patents that can be obtained depending on the nature of the invention. The main types of patents include:

  • Patents of invention
  • National phase PCT application
  • ARIPO regional phase PCT application

Patents of Invention

These are the most common type of patents and cover new and inventive products or processes in various fields of technology. Patents of invention are granted for a period of 20 years from the date of filing.

National Phase PCT Application

Kenya is a signatory to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which allows inventors to file a single international patent application that can be used to seek protection in multiple countries, including Kenya. This process is known as the national phase PCT application.

ARIPO Regional Phase PCT Application

Kenya is also a member of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), which enables inventors to file a single application designating multiple ARIPO member states. This regional phase PCT application simplifies the process of obtaining patent protection in multiple African countries.

It is important to select the appropriate type of patent application based on the scope of protection desired and the target market for the invention.

Patentability Criteria

To obtain a patent in Kenya, an invention must meet certain criteria of patentability. The invention must be:

  • Novel
  • Inventive step
  • Industrial applicability


The invention must be new and not disclosed to the public before the date of filing the patent application. It should not be part of the prior art, which includes any publicly available information related to the invention.

Inventive Step

The invention must involve an inventive step, meaning it must not be obvious to a person skilled in the field of technology. It should represent a significant improvement or advancement over existing knowledge or technology.

Industrial Applicability

The invention must be capable of being used or applied in trade or industry. It should have practical utility and be suitable for industrial or commercial purposes.

Meeting these criteria is essential for the successful grant of a patent in Kenya. It is advisable to conduct a thorough search and analysis of prior art and consult with a patent attorney to assess the patentability of your invention before proceeding with the application.

Application Process for Patent Registration

The process of patent registration in Kenya involves several stages, including filing the application, examination, publication, and the grant of the patent. Let’s take a closer look at each of these stages.

Filing the Application

To begin the patent registration process, you need to file an application with the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI). The application can be submitted either in person or through an agent authorized to act on your behalf.

When filing the application, you will need to provide the following documents:

  • Identification documents
  • Request for a Grant of a Patent form (IP3)
  • Specification document
  • Title of the invention
  • Background information
  • Description of the invention
  • One or more claims to the invention
  • Drawings (if necessary)
  • Abstract detailing the invention

Ensure that the application is complete and accurate, as any missing or incorrect information may delay the process or result in the rejection of the application.

Examination and Publication

Once the application is submitted, it undergoes a substantive examination by KIPI to assess its compliance with the patentability criteria. During this examination, KIPI will review the invention’s novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability. If any deficiencies or objections are identified, you will be given an opportunity to address them.

After the examination, if the application meets the requirements, it will be published in the KIPI journal after 18 months from the filing date. The publication of the application provides public notice of the invention and allows interested parties to oppose the grant of the patent if they believe it does not meet the necessary criteria.

Grant of the Patent

If no opposition is filed or if any opposition is successfully overcome, the patent will be granted. Once the patent is granted, you will receive a certificate of grant, affirming your exclusive rights to the invention. The patent has a duration of 20 years from the date of filing, subject to the payment of annual renewal fees.

Patent Registration Through ARIPO

In addition to filing a national patent application, inventors can also choose to register their patents through ARIPO. ARIPO provides a regional patent system that allows for the protection of inventions in multiple African countries. By filing a single application with ARIPO, inventors can secure patent protection in member states, including Kenya.

To register a patent through ARIPO, inventors should follow the procedures outlined by the organization and adhere to the requirements specific to the regional patent system. It is important to note that ARIPO patents are subject to the rules and regulations of ARIPO and may have different requirements and procedures compared to national patents.

How should you apply?

Applying in Person

To apply for a patent in person in Kenya, you will need to visit the KIPI offices and request assistance on intellectual property rights and patenting. KIPI will provide you with a Request for a Grant of a Patent form (Form IP3), which you need to fill and submit to the Managing Director of KIPI. The form can also be downloaded from the KIPI website. Along with the completed form, you must submit the invention and all necessary documentation for scrutiny.

Applying through an Agent

Alternatively, you can choose to apply for a patent in Kenya through an agent. This may involve additional costs. You will need to fill out a request form, providing your details and description of the invention. An agent will then get in touch with you to assist with the application process.

Patent Filing Requirements

When filing a patent application in Kenya, certain requirements must be met to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the application. The following documents and information are typically required:

  • Identification documents: Proof of identity and address of the applicant.
  • Request for a Grant of a Patent form: The official form provided by KIPI to initiate the application process.
  • Specification document: A detailed description of the invention, including its technical aspects and how it works.
  • Title of the invention: A concise and descriptive title that represents the nature of the invention.
  • Background information: An overview of the existing technology or prior art related to the invention.
  • Description of the invention: A thorough and clear explanation of the invention, including its components, features, and benefits.
  • Claims to the invention: Statements defining the scope of protection sought by the inventor.
  • Drawings (if necessary): Visual representations or diagrams illustrating the invention, if applicable.
  • Abstract: A concise summary that provides technical information about the invention.

Ensure that all documents are complete, accurate, and in compliance with the prescribed format and guidelines provided by KIPI or ARIPO, depending on the chosen route for patent registration.

Patentability Exceptions and Exclusions

While patents provide protection for a wide range of inventions, there are certain exceptions and exclusions to patentability in Kenya. The following types of inventions are generally not regarded as patentable:

  • Discoveries or findings that are products or processes of nature where mankind has not participated in their creation, including plants and microorganisms.
  • Scientific and mathematical methods and theories.
  • Schemes, such as investment or bookkeeping methods.
  • Business methods, such as credit or stock methods.
  • Rules for playing games (although game equipment may be patentable).
  • Methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy, as well as diagnostic methods (except for specific products or compositions used in those methods).
  • Public health-related methods of use or uses of any molecule or substances for the prevention or treatment of designated serious health hazards or life-threatening diseases.
  • Mere presentation of information.
  • Non-functional details of shape, configuration, pattern, or ornamentation.

It is important to be aware of these exceptions and exclusions to ensure that your invention falls within the scope of patentability.

Seeking Professional Assistance

The process of patent registration can be complex and time-consuming. It is advisable to seek professional assistance from a patent attorney or agent to ensure that your application meets all the requirements and is prepared accurately. A patent attorney or agent can provide guidance, conduct prior art searches, draft the application, and represent you throughout the process.


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