The functions of the Institute are to:
1. Administer industrial property rights;
2. Provide technological information to the public;
3. promote inventiveness and innovativeness in Kenya; and
4. Provide training on Industrial property.
The Industrial Property Act protects four elements of intellectual property rights namely:
The Act also provides for registration of technology transfer agreements and licences.
The Institute is also mandated to implement the Trademarks Act Cap 506 that deals with registration of Trade and Service marks .
In enacting the Act the Government recognized that inventors in the country were disadvantaged in getting patent protection because of the long and costly procedures that required an inventor to get protection in the United Kingdom (UK) Patent Office, before the same could be registered in the Registrar Generals Office in Kenya. Such a procedure rendered patenting a hopeless pursuit for an inventor mainly because the invention was likely to be copied and later patented by persons with easier access to the necessary patenting structures. It was therefore imperative that the government should develop a means to protect invention which is easily accessible to inventors.
Kenya is a member of African Regional Industrial Property Office (ARIPO) . This is a regional organization of 12 countries namely Kenya, Zimbabwe, The Gambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Botswana, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Swaziland, Malawi and Zambia. Inventors wishing to protect their inventions in these countries may file one application in Kenya and designate any or all them.
Kenya is also a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which administers the Patent Cooperation treaty (PCT).