Findings from the Uganda case study:
The government of Uganda handles matters of IP through its line Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, the Uganda Registration of Services Bureau and the Uganda Law Reform Commission. The main government initiatives and policies on IP law in Uganda have been driven primarily by the private sector (specifically those that self-identify as ‘rights holders’) and donors.
Human rights intersect with the rights given by copyright, patent and trademark. Article 26 of the Constitution provides for the right to property, including the tangible and intangible property to which IP rights belong. The law in Uganda provides not only protection but also remedies (e.g. damages and injunctions) for breach of the proprietary interests of rights holders in IP rights and other property such as land, companies, etc.
IP rights have not been interpreted to conform to Uganda’s national and international human rights obligations. Instead, more emphasis has been placed on the enforcement of IP rights at the expense of the country’s human rights obligations. There are various reasons for this, ranging from a lack of knowledge on how to strike a balance between IP and human rights, to pressure from IP rights holders to have their rights enforced.
In a bid to avert the above situation, there are policy processes in Uganda such as the National Human Rights Plan and the National Plan, both at draft stage, which will drastically change the reach, scope and effect of IP rights in Uganda, and strike a balance between IP rights and Uganda’s international, regional and national human rights obligations.
To some extent, IP law and policy in Uganda already consider human rights as well as the legal flexibilities available to the country to improve access. However there are challenges in implementing the law, and a major challenge facing the realisation of the right to health, education and knowledge in Uganda remains enforcement and the limited use of public interest litigation.
The current stalemate or slow pace in implementing a human rights-based approach to IP rights in Uganda is mainly due to the perception in some parts of government that doing so would be tantamount to having the policy imposed upon it by the global North.
Abreviations and acronyms
Part I: Introduction
Part II: Uganda’s human rights commitments
Part III: Primary intellectual property policy instruments
Part IV: Identification of Makerere University IPRs policy
Part V: How the research was carried out
Part VI: Primary policy drivers of IP policy
Part VII: Relationships between policy drivers
Part VIII: Limitations on owners’ rights
Part IX: Patents and access to health care
Part X: Influence of human rights on IP policy
Part XI: Notable results from research by interviewees
Part XII: Integration of human rights into IP policy
Part XIII: Conclusions
Africa scholars of knowledge justice
Annex A: Consent form and sample questions
Annex B: Uganda’s compliance
Annex C: Intellectual property actors
Annex D: Policy drivers in Uganda
ASK Justice Publications
This report was published by ASK Justice 2018. Unless otherwise indicated, the content of this report is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence. To view a copy of the licence, visit: creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0. The following works are not covered by the CC licence: Cover photograph – Shutterstock.com.
ASK Justice is supported by a grant from the Open Society Foundations. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of ASK Justice’s funders.
Design and typesetting: Elsabe Gelderblom of Farm Design.