Introducing our Lions' Den Blog Series: Intellectual Property Lessons for Startups

This month, Kenya’s version of the successful business reality television (TV) shows Shark Tank and Dragons’ Den will premiere on national TV. Lions’ Den will feature a cross-section of budding entrepreneurs who will pitch their business ideas in order to secure investment deals from a panel of 5 successful Kenyan business leaders (the Lions).

The Lions are Mike Rabar, Olive Gachara, Darshan Chandaria, Kris Senanu and Wandia Gichuru. The TV format for show was reportedly licensed from Sony Pictures to Quite Bright Films sponsored by Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and the show will be aired on Nation TV owned by Nation Media Group.
For many start-up businesses, intellectual property (IP) is the difference between success and failure especially when competing with larger established players in the market. Much of the creativity and innovation that is developed by startups can be protected with using a variety of IP legal systems like patents for inventions, trade marks for brands, designs for the way a product looks and copyright for creative works and content.

According to KCB, out of the over 4,500 applications received, 75 contestants have been selected to pitch for investment from the Lions. Each contestant has signed a Consent and Release Agreement which in and of itself has several IP implications. Firstly, the contestants no longer have any claims against the producers of Lions’ Den related to: image rights and privacy rights, confidentiality and non-disclosure of their business proposals and related rights in the fixation of their performances. Secondly, the contestants have several obligations vis-a-vis the producers of Lions’ Den including: not using the trade marks belonging to the show and its partners, ensuring their business proposals are free from any IP claims and that all IP rights held by the contestants in their business proposals are valid and enforceable.
Over 50% of the startups set to enter the Lions’ Den are in the ICT, Manufacturing and Food & Beverages industries. The other key industries represented in Lions Den are: Design, Energy, Agriculture, Entertainment, Education, Environment, Publishing, Health and Services.
From today, we kick-off a brand-new blog series on Lions’ Den. Every week, we’ll be blogging about IP issues we spot in each episode. Drawing from the various businesses represented on the show, it is our hope that this blog series will help our readers better understand how intellectual property works in the real world.

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