Why saying ‘alaa! alaa!’ could land you in court

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Central Organisations Trade Union (COTU) boss Francis Atwoli has patented the phrase ‘alaa’ which is popularly associated making him the exclusive owner of the phrase. In short, this means that he could sue you for using it without his permission.

According to the Kenya Intellectual Property Insitute (KIPI) Atwoli has the exclusive right to the now-famous phrase until 2031. KIPI, the body mandated to regulate intellectual property rights, approved Atwoli’s application dating 2021. 

“Any advert cannot use the word ‘alaa!’ unless they get his permission,” Atwoli’s close aide disclosed to the Nation. 

The phrase, commonly used by disk jockeys in their mixes, will henceforth be considered an exclusive property of Atwoli. 

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Atwoli first uttered the popular phrase during an interview with Citizen TV’s Jeff Koinange on the JKL show in May 2021. Later, in December 2021, the trade unionist declared his intention to pursue exclusive rights for the phrase.

When asked about the decision and motive, Atwoli noted that his lawyers had advised him to patent the phrase. He noted that he would use the phrases in various products, including a clothesline and sportswear products.

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