Recent news articles based on the Editor General’s report are showing that the anti-counterfeits agency’s ability to combat flow of illicit goods will remain hampered due to staff shortages.

Auditor-General Edward Ouko says the Anti-Counterfeit Agency had 73 workers against the required staff size of 250, resulting in a shortfall of 177.

“Further, the agency’s core function of enforcement is severely understaffed as it had 35 staff members in position against the recommended establishment of 141 during the year under review,” Mr Ouko says in an audit of the agency’s books of accounts for the year to June 2017.

He said the management explained that they expect to recruit 27 inspectors in the 2018/19 year after receiving approval from the Head of Public Service and the National Treasury.

Kenya Private Sector Alliance, an umbrella body for local companies, says illicit goods account for about 40 per cent of all traded goods in the country.

Some of those are imports supposedly intended for transit to a neighbouring country, then diverted to the local market with no import fees paid.

The Anti-Counterfeit Agency is established under the Anti-Counterfeit Act 2008 as a State Corporation with the mandates to enlighten and inform the public on matters relating to counterfeiting, combat counterfeiting, trade and other dealings in counterfeit goods, devise and promote training programs to combat counterfeiting and co-ordinate with national, regional or international organizations involved in combating counterfeiting.

It is a state corporation currently within the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Trade. Although the Act was passed by Kenya’s Parliament in 2008, it came into force on 1st July 2009 with the principal aim of prohibiting trade in counterfeit goods. The Agency came into operation in June 2010.

Its mandate includes to combat counterfeiting, trade and other dealings in counterfeit goods and to co-ordinate with national, regional or international organizations involved in combating counterfeiting. It is the enforcement arm of infringement of industrial property rights duly registered under the industrial property institute KIPI.

Read more here.

Law firm Linklaters has began moving some of its associates into permanent tech roles.

This is in a bid to help its developers and lawyers communicate more effectively.

Associates from a number of the firm’s offices – including Singapore, New York and London – have recently completed six- and 12-month secondments with the firm’s Artificial Intelligence platform Nakhoda, before moving back to their practice groups. But the firm has now said it is now aiming to sign up one or two associates for permanent, non-legal roles within the team.

Linklaters moved its first associate into such a role in the team last April, with the lawyer in question moving from the firm’s London derivatives practice.

In their new roles, the lawyers will act as a bridge between the wider firm and Nakhoda’s developers, who work on bespoke legal tech products for clients and the firm itself.

A key quote to note from Linklaters banking partner Edward Chan said Nakhoda is, “Individuals with a good understanding of legal practice and who are also conversant in tech to quite a high degree are quite scarce in the market,” he said.

For an industry that has been long conservative and traditional, it is commendable to see the efforts that Linklaters has put in. It’s the dawn of a continuing new era and we hope that more law firms engage accordingly.

Read More here.

The Law Society of Kenya has filed Petitions before the Constitutional Court to define the administrative process from investigation, arrest (bail) and arraignment, as well as Advocates’ right to practice and citizens’ right of legal representation.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has proposed for establishment of Special Plea Courts where suspects arrested can be immediately arraigned on Saturdays, Sundays or even during public holidays.

According to the LSK CEO, arresting suspects on Fridays and arraigning them on Mondays was unconstitutional since the accused would have spent more than the 24 hour time-frame. She added all accused persons are also entitled to bails or bond as a matter of rights.

Read more here.

The US Supreme Court to review a new front in the battle over free speech and will decide whether trademark protection can be refused to brands the federal government finds vulgar or lewd.

The case involves a decision of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to deny trademark registration to a clothing line called FUCT.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit struck down the century-old ban on protecting “scandalous” and “immoral” trademarks as a First Amendment violation, and the Department of Justice wants the Supreme Court to reverse the decision.

But the Supreme Court in 2017 ruled unanimously that another part of the trademark law — one that banned registering trademarks that were considered “disparaging”— violated the First Amendment.

That ruling, Matal v. Tam, came in a case that involved an Asian American rock group called the Slants, which tried to register the band’s name in 2011. The band was turned down by the USPTO because officials said it was likely to offend Asian Americans.

The USPTO defines “scandalous” marks as those that a substantial composite of the general public would find “‘shocking to the sense of truth, decency, or propriety; disgraceful; offensive; disreputable; . . . giving offense to the conscience or moral feelings; . . . or calling out for condemnation,” according to the government’s brief.

The case,Iancu v. Brunetti , will probably be heard at the Supreme Court in April.

Read More Here.

Lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster Bob Ambrogi has put together an article on the year’s most important developments in legal technology here. 

We highlight his top three here:

Analytics

‘At the center of the analytics story this year has been LexisNexis.

Following its acquisitions of Lex Machina in 2015 and Ravel Law, it has been steadily working to build on the foundations established by those products and integrate them into its legal research platform Lexis Advance. It has steadily expanded the practice areas covered by Lex Machina’s analytics, and from Ravel it added both visual search results and the unique Context analytics that examine the language of judges’ opinions.

The defining moment for LexisNexis this year came in July, when it put a stake in the ground to claim the analytics space.’

Global Legal Tech

The world of legal tech got flatter. That was largely thanks to the Global Legal Hackathon.

This audacious effort by organizers who had never before run even a local hackathon turned out to be a huge success. They rallied participation by 600-1,000 teams in 40 cities and 22 countries around the world.

Our Legal Hackers Global Community also grew to 130 Global chapters since inception in 2012, hosting over 450 events with a total community estimate of almost 45,000 members.

Smart Legal Research

Not only did research get smarter, thanks to a whole new generation of tools powered by AI and natural language processing, but it also got more expansive, thanks to a momentous project that put all U.S. case law online.

 

Legal research platforms introduced product after product designed to make their research platforms “smarter” and to further separate them from their competitors.

That started with ROSS Intelligence’s introduction of EVA, a brief-analysis tool similar in concept to the previously released CARA from Casetext and Clerk from Judicata. That led to the aforementioned robot fight, Vincent from vLex, Attorney IO, and CaseIQ from Casemine, as well as to major updates to the product that started it all.

Beyond brief analysis, this was the year in which Thomson Reuters introduced Westlaw Edge, the next generation of its industry-leading legal research platform, that LexisNexis put a “stake in the ground” to claim the legal analytics space with its Lexis Analytics, and that the American Association of Law Libraries selected Bloomberg Law’s AI-powered Points of Law as new product of the year.

Read the entire article here.

Kenya was the third most preferred startup investment destination in Africa last year, attracting a total of 73 deals after South Africa and Nigeria which saw 107 and 136 pacts signed respectively, a new report shows.

Digital payments service provider Cellulant’s deal with The Rise Fund where the former sold a 44.04 per cent stake worth Sh4.8 billion to the subsidiary of US-based TPG Growth Company, was the largest in the country.

The Venture Investments Report 2018 by WeeTracker, a firm that focuses on the African start-up ecosystem, says that about Sh72.6 billion ($725.6 million) was invested in 458 deals across the continent in 2018, representing a 300 percent growth in the total funding amount and over 127 percent increase in the number of deals when compared to 2017.

Fintech companies attracted the highest funding, making financial technology the most lucrative sub-sector in the African startup space.

Africa’s top deal was e-commerce giant Naspers’ investment in Webuycars.co.za (Sh9.5 billion), followed by South African lending platform Jumo’s deals worth Sh6.75 billion.

Others were Kenya solar provider D.light which got Sh6.6 billion equity injection and Tanzania’s Zola Electric which secured a total of Sh5.5 billion in funding.

Kenya-based companies whose deals tipped the Sh500 million mark include mobile lending platform Branch (Sh2 billion), business to business marketplace platform Twiga and solar energy firm Mkopa where each received Sh1 billion.

Read the Insightful Article here.

According to the Business Daily, leading Telecommunications firms Safaricom and Telkom have won tenders worth Sh888 million and Sh350 million respectively in a deal with the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to build base transceiver stations to boost network connectivity in 78 remote sub-locations across the country.

The CA awarded contracts totalling Sh1.24 billion to the telcos to set up their networks in unserved areas and expand voice services in a bid to improve communication for residents in various parts of Turkana, Wajir, Garissa and Kwale counties.

People living in remote areas of Kilifi, West Pokot, Kajiado, Narok and Bungoma areas are also set to benefit from the partnership.

So far, the project has covered 238,082 people with the State regulator aiming to add 319,298 Kenyans to the country’s communication grid.

In total, there are 164 sub-locations in Kenya with zero network coverage.

The CA manages the Universal Service Fund to which telcos, broadcasters and couriers contribute 0.5 per cent of their annual revenues. It then uses the fund to subsidise projects that bridge the digital divide.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) is the regulatory authority for the communications sector in Kenya.

Established in 1999 by the Kenya Information and Communications Act, 1998, the Authority is responsible for facilitating the development of the information and communications sectors including; broadcasting, cybersecurity, multimedia, telecommunications, electronic commerce, postal and courier services.

This responsibility entails Managing the universal access fund to facilitate access to communications services by all in Kenya.

The internet has been shut down in key cities in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the presidential election.

Counting is under way, but provisional results are not expected until January 6 2019.

President Joseph Kabila is stepping down after 17 years in office. He has promised DR Congo’s first orderly transfer of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Internet connectivity in the vast central African state was already disrupted before voters headed to polls on Dec. 30, according to advocacy group NetBlocks, which maps internet freedom globally. A full blackout was also experienced in major cities, including the capital Kinshasa, after results started trickling in on Monday (Dec. 31), with outages impacting mobile and fixed-line connections.

According to AccessNow, the number of internet shutdowns is dramatically increasing around the worldThere were 55 shutdown instances recorded in 2016, with 62 instances recorded in 2017.

Most of these took place in Asia, which had 53 recorded instances, primarily because of the shockingly high number of shutdowns in India and Pakistan, and Africa which had seven. it is especially common that states shut down the internet during the electioneering period.

The #KeepitOn campaign, convened by Access Now, consists of 141 organizations from 59 countries that are devoted to fighting internet shutdowns.

Read more here and here.

As a legal tech community, 2018 saw an increase in numbers, interest, events as well as legal instruments.

Below is a glimpse of our top three.

Data Protection

Data Protection and Privacy was at the helm of our conversations as our Legal Hackers community engaged in stakeholder consultations for both Kenya Data Protection Bills. From the Senate as well as from the National Assembly.

Our Co – organizer also presented a lightning talk on the cost of social media and customer service delivery at the annual Forum on Internet Freedoms in Africa.

Blockchain and Emerging Technologies

As a chapter, we partnered with other Legal Hackers chapters to host the Computational Law and Blockchain Festival 2018 which was a success. We had amazing partners on the ground including Bithub Africa, Hiil, Uwakili the DIY Law platform, the Strathmore Centre of Intellectual Property and ICT Law, Kenya ICT Action Network and the leading tech blog Techweez.

We also had an opportunity to discuss several emerging technologies as well as a session on blockchain in partnership with the Moringa School through a series dubbed ‘Tech Lex 101’ over several months.

We got Lawyers to learn how to code!

Writing code has been on my personal to do list for a while. Turns out I wasn’t alone!

In 2018, we partnered with the amazing Start Up Africa’s Talking and had a class of 20 lawyers learning how to code in python! This is my personal highlight

We’ve put together the key legal instrument highlights for the year. You can access the full article here.

As a chapter, we look forward to delivering three things this year.

Growth, Impact and Relevance for our partners, members and co – chapters.

Have a prosperous 2019!

Our Legal Hackers Global team was featured on Forbes in an article penned by Valentin Pivovarov, a Contributor on Forbes who writes about legal tech and how it is changing access to justice. He is also an Organizer of on of our European Chapters, Kyiv Legal Hackers.

In the insightful artice, Valentin speaks of the beginnings of the Hacker culture. He demystifies the long held concept on the ‘evil’ perceived nature of hackers. He states, ‘… Despite the fact that the media perceived ‘hackers’ as associated with harm, there have always been those who seek to do no harm. These hackers practice ‘white hat’ ethical hacking.’

He elaborately discusses the concept of Legal Hacking stating that. ‘There are also some different types of hacking, and one of the most popular and fast-growing is legal hacking. It means that lawyers are using technologies to solve legal problems and optimize their work process on the one side, and people are using technologies to solve their own legal problems on the other.’

Today, Legal Hackers chapters have spread to all continents and exist in 110 cities in the world. Every year, the community gathers more and more people from all over the world.

Ours is an open and collaborative community of individuals passionate about exploring and building creative solutions to some of the most pressing issues at the intersection of law and technology. Our Nairobi Chapter was the first to be established in Africa in 2016, through which we have actively been engaged in the growth and development of the Silicon Savannah.

Read More Here