Bowmans Kenya (Coulson Harney LLP)

Since inception in 2008, our IP practice has grown into a world-class team and the largest trademark licensing agency in East Africa. Besides trademarks, we are also experienced in patents, copyrights, IP litigation, oppositions and counterfeit raids, e-commerce, money payment transactions, technology, media and telecoms, gaming, advertising and promotions. We draw on our unique knowledge of the African business environment and our in-depth understanding of the socio-political climate to advise clients on a wide range of legal issues. Our aim is to assist our clients in achieving their objectives as smoothly and efficiently as possible while minimising legal and regulatory risks.

Our IP practice is pre-eminent in Kenya and the largest trademark filing practice in East Africa. We act for major global multinational corporations and handle over 1,000 trademark applications a year across Africa.

Our practice extends beyond our borders – we advise both locally and internationally under the Madrid and African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation registration systems, as well as on national protection in other countries worldwide through a network of associate agent law firms.

We are highly regarded for our IP dispute resolution capability, with three experienced partners who handle trademark, patent, design, copyright and advertising litigation in Kenya before the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The team has been involved in several landmark precedent-setting decisions, including the Nairobi Java v Café Javas Ugandan High Court decision and the Sony Corporation v Sony Holdings Court of Appeal decision. We are retained in big-ticket IP litigation mandates by global corporates on their most sensitive disputes.

Our dedicated IP and IT team of eight lawyers regularly leverage on other teams in the firm – particularly the litigation team – to provide high-calibre IP litigation advice both inside and outside the courtroom. Further, as a leading pan-African firm with six offices in four countries, we have access to over 400 lawyers and a wealth of advice across Africa, with representation in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

Our team won the Intellectual Property Team of the Year Award 2015 at the African Legal Awards hosted by Legal Week and the Corporate Lawyers Association and received special recognition in 2016.

The IP team is headed by John Syekei, who is regionally and globally renowned for his excellence in the IP sector and has received several recognitions and awards in his field. Mr Syekei has over 13 years’ experience in advising clients on IP issues across East Africa. His specialties include portfolio management, brand strategy, IP dispute resolution matters before the High Court and the Court of Appeal, commercial IP licensing and franchising technology and e-commerce, advertising law and counterfeit actions (search and seizure raids). He also runs a busy filing practice (trademarks, designs and patents) across Africa.

Mr Syekei also handles trademark opposition and cancellation actions before the registrar of trademarks in Kenya, as well as domain name disputes on behalf of clients of the firm. In the IT, technology, media and telecoms sectors, he advises a number of leading global technology companies, including Uber, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and IBM. He also acts as the Kenyan counsel on regulation, compliance and corporate matters for Philip Morris International, Proctor & Gamble, IBM and Uber. Mr Syekei is a member of the International Federation of Industrial Property Attorneys, the Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance and the International Trademark Association.

We have particular expertise in branding-related advice, serving leading multinationals from around the world within the financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and healthcare and technology, media and telecoms sectors.

Contact details

Bowmans Kenya (Coulson Harney LLP)
Fifth Floor
ICEA Lion Centre
West Wing
Riverside Park
Chiromo Road
Nairobi 1064

Professional contacts

Other offices

  • Cape Town
  • Dar es Salaam
  • Durban
  • Johannesburg
  • Kampala

Sample client list

  • Adidas
  • Deutsche Welle
  • Diageo
  • Facebook
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Google
  • IBM
  • Kenya Airways
  • Microsoft
  • Philips
  • Samsung
  • Sony Corporation
  • Uber

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