Reflecting the growing importance of East Africa as a branding destination, the WTR 1000 covers the market in Uganda for the first time this year. Uganda is a complex market for brand owners – trademark registration fees are high, filing must be conducted manually and enforcement is weak – so finding good counsel is absolutely crucial. However, the IP environment in Uganda is improving; for example, the Uganda Registration Services Bureau is becoming more proactive in terms of raising IP awareness in the country. Specialisation in IP practice among the market’s lawyers is also increasing.
Apio, Byabazaire, Musanase & Co Advocates
Apio, Byabazaire, Musanase & Co Advocates – the first all-female multi-partner firm in Uganda – is committed to providing exceptional client service and it delivers on the money. As one client espouses: “With the advice of ABM, you can confidently brand and market your company without fear of infringement. Its practitioners show unmatched skill and professionalism in navigating emerging and dynamic business issues and providing strategic direction.” The side also makes a massive contribution to the advancement of trademark law and practice in Uganda by advocating for legislative reform and running training and mentorship programmes. IP head Jamina Apio lives and breathes intellectual property. “Her passion, intelligence, diligence and deep knowledge make her an invaluable partner. She seeks and finds the best solutions to all challenges and has established herself as a leading expert in terms of strategic IP insight and innovation.”
One of Africa’s top commercial law firms, award-winning Bowmans is distinguished by its continental office network, its strength in depth – it now has over 400 specialised lawyers – and its excellent international connections and knowledge. The firm’s East Africa IP practice is an excellent one; partners in Nairobi, Der es Salaam and Kampala collaborate seamlessly to render watertight protections for the great many brands for whom the region is of increasing strategic importance. Anchoring the practice in Kampala, Frederick Mpanga oversees trademark registration and litigation matters with poise. Lead IP associate Brian Manyire takes responsibility for the day-to-day running of the practice, proving himself to be highly adept when it comes to prosecution and high-level enforcement.
Kampala Associated Advocates
“Kampala offers a top-quality and reliable trademark service. Its highly trained IP team proficiently handles matters across East Africa and does so cost-effectively and with a results-oriented approach.” Popular as a referral choice for leading international law firms, the outfit takes care of trademark, copyright and patent registrations and oppositions with a minimum amount of fuss. The group’s technology, media and telecoms prowess is particularly noteworthy, which is a real boon for clients seeking guidance on social media, domain name and cyber-squatting issues. Partner in charge Augustine Idoot demonstrates impressive range and is an authority when it comes to technology law, commercial litigation, arbitration and intellectual property.
Katende Ssempebwa & Co Advocates
One of Uganda’s biggest and best full-service firms, Katende Ssempebwa & Co maintains a dynamic and growing IP practice. Efficient in prosecution, hard-hitting in infringement cases and deft in transactional negotiations, the team has any brand covered whether they are looking to protect, enforce or monetise intangible assets. Head of the practice Jane Akiteng brings more than 20 years of experience to the table and is an ever-reliable IP guide. She has scored trademark litigation victories for several well-known international brands and is a cogent choice for anything contentious.
“Experienced and well-organised, KTA’s team showcases fantastic knowledge of trademark law and branding.” The East African technology and IP law boutique has one of the most well-rounded practices on the market and is in its element when auditing, managing and developing portfolios, handling contentious registry proceedings and coordinating and resolving consequential multi-jurisdictional IP disputes. Not just focused on its client commercial objectives, the ensemble generously shares its expertise with the wider market by publishing extensively on hot trademark topics and by organising conferences and training events for the benefit of all stakeholders in Ugandan intellectual property. Kenneth Muhangi takes the reins of the practice. “He has a unique understanding of brand-related market trends and developments and is a creative and well-informed expert.” Another name to note is Edwin Tabaro, an outstanding advocate who has been setting trademark litigation benchmarks in Uganda for over a decade.
“MMAKS combines excellent technical IP and legal capabilities with outstanding client care skills. It handles large trademark filing projects efficiently and has vast experience in enforcement and litigation in Uganda and the East African region.” On the prosecution side, the practice has been extremely busy of late handling a plethora of instructions from global behemoths, such as Facebook, Samsung, GlaxoSmithKline and Walmart – and the story is the same on the contentious front. A magnet for praise, Mathias Ssekatawa “really knows his stuff and is a thorough lawyer who inspires great confidence”. “Mathias is super responsive and easy to work with and offers pragmatic solutions to complex trademark problems.” Fellow partner Moses Adriko – a seasoned litigator and past president of the Uganda Law Society – is also widely lauded; “he turns work around incredibly quickly and is a go to for efficient IP services in Uganda.” In Grace Nakabugo, the firm has an “impressive and switched-on” associate, adding versatility and depth.
Sebalu & Lule Advocates
Foreign associates consider Sebalu & Lule to be an “extremely efficient and reliable trademark contact in Uganda”. As a member of DLA Piper Africa, the ensemble is extremely well connected and can seamlessly counsel on any local and international matters.
Shonubi Musoke & Co Advocates
Commercial firm Shonubi Musoke & Co prosecutes and enforces trademark rights with aplomb and executes instructions with an unerring dedication to quality and an unabating attention to detail. “Efficient and reliable, the team dispenses high-standard legal advice and ensures your rights are protected. Dedicated, diligent and caring, it always exceeds expectations.” Prosecution ace Haila Ndaula knows the ins and outs of protecting – and enforcing – trademarks in Uganda. She always keeps clients’ business interests front of mind.
Sipi Law Associates
Intellectual property is the first love of gold-tier commercial firm Sipi Law Associates. The set has been pushing the boundaries of trademark law and practice in Uganda since its establishment in 2004 and is a top choice for sophisticated brand protection and enforcement counsel. The vibrant practice is manned by Paul Asiimwe, Tony Kakooza and Dinnah Kyasimire. Asiimwe is an IP thought and practice leader who is always at the table whenever legislative and policy reforms are being discussed; Kakooza is hailed as a “leading academic reference”; and Kyasimire is one of the country’s next generation of IP stars.
Other recommended expertsABNO Advocates’ managing partner Paula Namusiitwa is a seasoned IP attorney who is dedicated to improving the IP environment in Uganda. In particular, she has driven change in the country’s Buganda Kingdom, drafting and implementing its first traditional knowledge policy.
- Jamina Apio - Apio, Byabazaire, Musanase & Co Advocates
- Paul Asiimwe - Sipi Law Associates
- Tony K Kakooza - Sipi Law Associates
- Mathias Ssekatawa - MMAKS Advocates
- Moses Adriko - MMAKS Advocates
- Jane Francis Akiteng - Katende Ssempebwa & Co Advocates
- Kenneth Muhangi - KTA Advocates
- Paula Namusiitwa - ABNO Avocates
- Edwin Tabaro - KTA Advocates
- Augustine Idoot - Kampala Associated Advocates
- Dinnah Kyasimire - Sipi Law Associates
- Brian Manyire - Bowmans
- Frederick Mpanga - Bowmans
- Grace Nakabugo - MMAKS Advocates
- Haila Ndaula - Shonubi Musoke & Co Advocates