A Kampala-based law firm, KTA Advocates is in the process of patenting the long-horned Ankole cow as a unique livestock specific to Ankole region in particular and Uganda in general.
Kenneth Muhangi, a partner in KTA Advocates says the protection of the image of the long-horned Ankole cow will be under the Geographical Indications Act of 2013.
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) defines geographical indication (GI) as a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.
In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin, and since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there should be a clear link between the product and its original place of production.
Muhangi says the process to register the long-horned Ankole cow is underway, adding that the same could be done for bark cloth, a unique fabric from Buganda kingdom.
"We recently passed the Geographical indications Act which protects geographical indications. Things like barkcloth in Buganda, Ankole long-horned cow which our firm is actually working on registering. GIs give protection to communities to indigenous communities." said Muhangi.
Muhangi did not divulge more details, insisting that the registration process is on. GIs are typically used for agricultural products like cotton, coffee and shea butter; unique foods like oluwombo, eshabwe, lapena, lakotokoto, angira, Angara; wines and spirits like Uganda Waragi and ajono, handicrafts, and other unique industrial products.
In an earlier paper on the geographical indication, the former director of Intellectual Property at Uganda Registration Services Bureau, Juliet Nassuna said the items that can be protected under the GI law include, for example, the drums made at Mpambire and the stools made in Pakwach.
According to WIPO, a geographical indication right enables those who have the right to use the indication to prevent its use by a third party whose product does not conform to the applicable standards.
There are three main ways to protect a geographical indication namely a special regime like the Geographical Indications Act of 2013, using collective or certification marks, and using methods focusing on business practices, including administrative product approval schemes.
According to Muhangi, by registering and protecting the image of the long-horned Ankole cow, they would prevent its misuse, especially by multinationals, noting that the opportunities for GI's are limitless.
The long-horned Ankole cattle, through unique to Uganda has since been taken to far off lands like South Africa, Ethiopia and Libya.