Does Intellectual Property Protection Bring Advantage to Innovators And Consumers? Perceptions of Kenyan Small Agro-Food Processors
Enriching understanding of the complex relationship between intellectual property protection and local perceptions on how it benefits innovator and consumer in food value chain is an important policy effort towards food security and economic development of an agricultural society. This paper concerns intellectual property of small entrepreneurs as an intangible human capital that would spurs their ingenuity and innovation in processing foods to feed the exponentially growing population. The study sampled opinions of 132 micro and small agro-food processors in Kenya on intellectual property and its effect on developing advantageous products for them and consumers. Patent and trade secret were used as predictors of advantageous products. The two variables were modeled using linear regression techniques to find their effects on food products that would end starvation and generate enough income for the innovators (advantageous products). The study found out that the contribution of trade secrets was positive and patenting inverse to both the innovator and customer at marketplace. In the opinion of agro-food processors, intellectual property protection did not significantly influence the advantage of food products to the innovator and the end user. This implies that, small scale agro-food processors have not fully appreciated the importance of intellectual property rights. Therefore the study suggests the food processors are sensitized and current intellectual property legal framework be enhanced to promote innovation among the micro and small entrepreneurs. Borrowing from United States and China, the administration of intellectual property protection should be a one-stop-shop for policy development and enforce laws and all other intellectual proprietary matters. Interested further studies could be done on trade mark, copyrights and plant patents.
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