Here’s how to legally protect your website in Uganda


In this age of information technology, a website usually marks an online presence for an entity or business and will provide more information about the business. In some cases, websites are used to carry out online transactions.
Often times, businesses or entities create and develop websites with brilliant ideas but leave these unprotected. In this article, I will show the different stages and methods of protecting a website.

Non-Disclosure agreements

The first step in protecting your website is to sign what is called a Non-disclosure agreement also called a Confidentiality agreement. This should be signed at the discussion level usually before any information about the website is disclosed to the developer.

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A Non-disclosure agreement is an agreement that protects the disclosure of information between the parties and provides for penalties in case such information is disclosed in breach of the agreement. In this case, it will protect the information disclosed by the one intending to develop the website and the one hired to develop it. In Uganda, such agreements are enforced as “Contracts”.

In some cases, a person or business comes up with a brilliant idea for a website, explains this idea to someone else and before you know it, that other person goes ahead to “steal” this idea and develop a similar website. Non-disclosure agreements are one way of preventing such a thing from happening.

Domain Registration

A domain name is a unique address and name used to identify a website e.g or The domain will serve as an online “signpost” for the business. Once reserved, the domain will be protected for a certain duration of time which means no other business or entity can claim that domain. It is advisable to reserve as many similar domains as possible to protect against copycats.

Agreement for work done

Such an agreement is vital in that it will provide the basis for the relationship between the developers and the website owner. This agreement will provide terms such as fees, deliverables and will act as a guide in case of legal disputes. These agreements usually take the format of a “Service Level Agreement” and not Employment Contracts unless the person due to develop the Website is a full time employee of the company.

Terms of service

Terms of service are rules and conditions which could have a binding effect on those using the website and whose contents depend on the nature and type of business the website represents. If one does not wish to abide by these rules, then such a person is free not to access services on the website. It is recommended practice that the developer seeks legal assistance in order to come up with terms of service for a particular website.

Privacy Policy

In this day and age where issues of online privacy and identity theft is a trending issue, it is prudent for a website owner to let users know what sort of information is being gathered about them as they use the website and how such information is to be used. In Uganda, the laws governing data protection are weak and so having a privacy policy like this will act to boost confidence in the absence of a specific governing legislation.


This will shield the website from certain wrongs or liabilities that might arise from one using the website. Certain disclaimers however, might not hold any legal weight, but none the less, it is always prudent to have a disclaimer on the website. Again, it is recommended that legal advice be sought in the drafting of this disclaimer.

Some websites go further and have what are known as “Exclusion clauses” which seek to protect the website in case of liability issues. For example, if the website offers health tips, then such a website will have an exclusion clause asking the user to seek further medical advice from a professional.


A copyright protects ones works and this could apply to the website. In Uganda, the law governing this is the Copyright and Neighboring Act which could be interpreted to provide protection for material on websites e.g photos, articles etc. In addition, the HTML code of the website could also be protected in this way. In case someone copies the entire website or material from it without consent, then such a person could be held legally liable.


Patents in Uganda are protected under the Patent Act although this law is currently being revised. Under this law, products and how such a product works is protected. In relation to websites, a Patent would protect the way the website operates and avoid others from copying such a website.


In Uganda, this is provided for by the Trademark Act and covers things like the logo and sometimes the look on the website. This would make it unlawful for someone to copy the logo and sometimes impersonate your website or website activities.


Editor’s note: This is a post from BarefootLaw.  If you have any question or comments on this issue, or any other legal issue, please do get in touch with BarefootLaw through their website at, Facebook on , email to or call 0414660539.

  • Abdu Hanan Ssekalala

    you can’t patent a website

    • Mwesigwa Daniel

      You can patent particular features, for example Amazon super-one-click feature is patented.

      • Abdu Hanan Ssekalala

        @mwesigwadaniel:disqus thats not the same as patenting a website and more so such patents are not applicable in Uganda. Patents like most intellectual property rights are territorial

        • Mwesigwa Daniel

          “Patents in Uganda are protected under the Patent Act although this law is currently being revised. Under this law, products and how such a product works is protected. In relation to websites, a Patent would protect the way the website operates and avoid others from copying such a website.”

          Note that this means in whole and/or in part. As written in the article the Patent Act is not as elaborate and as comprehensive as we would like to imagine, but certainly contemporary IP law in the U.S is pretty much the same as in Uganda although with some subtleties here and there.

          Side note: This whole IP law thing is a tad complicated, I must say. To answer you but with a counter question; an estimated 95% of Ugandan websites are hosted in the US. So what laws or governance structures do they follow now if we’re to bring the territory aspect into perspective, America’s or Uganda’s? And whence are the patents filings made?

          Coincidentally, I read a relaxed treatise about IP law. If you got 25 minutes to spare, here

          • Abdu Hanan Ssekalala

            “IP law in the U.S is pretty much the same as in Uganda although with some subtleties here and there” is completely wrong. At independence in 1962, Uganda inherited the then existing British IP system, including whole pieces of legislation. This situation continued until the late 1980s and the early 1990s when changes began to occur. The period 1990 to-date has been marked by changes in the IP legal system, mainly as a consequence of international obligations that were themselves a result of Uganda being signatory to a number of international treaties, conventions and agreements. One such agreement is the World Trade Organization (WTO)-TRIPS Agreement.

            Uganda has the following IP laws:
            • Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, 2006
            • Copyrights and Neighbouring Right Regulations, S.I No. 1 of 2010
            • Patents Act, 1993
            • Patents (Amendment) Act, 2002-This amendment provides for PCT applications in Uganda
            • Patent Regulation, S1 216-1
            • Trademarks Act No. 17 of 2010, and the Trademark Regulations SI No.58 of 2012
            • United Kingdom Designs (Protection) Act Cap 218, 1937 – Provides for protection in Uganda designs registered in United Kingdom
            • Trade Secrets Protection Act, 2009
            • Geographical Indication Act, 2013 – Regulations Yet to be published
            • Industrial Property Act, 2013 (To replace and repeal the Patents Act and the United Kingdom Designs (Protection) Act)

            – Regulations yet to be published
            • Plant Variety Protection Bill was passed by parliament and is awaiting Presidential assent
            • Anti Counterfeiting Goods Bill, 2009- Bill is before Parliament for discussion

            Uganda is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organization and is a party/signatory to various international and regional treaties/protocols and agreements including the Harare Protocol on patents and industrial designs , Banjul Protocol on marks, Patent Cooperation Treaty-1970 among others.

            And as much as I appreciate the link to the basic explanation of IP I am well aware of the subject as I am a Resource Person for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and have a Certificate in Advanced Training on Intellectual Property Rights in the Global Economy for Least Developed Countries trained by WIPO in conjunction with the Swedish Patent Office (PRV). More to the same I’ll will be giving a presentation on IP in the Digital Economy: Benefits and Challenges for Software Development at the WIPO-ARIPO Regional Workshop on Intellectual Property (IP) and Product Branding for Business Development in Africa this Friday 26 November at the ARIPO
            Headquarters, Harare, Zimbabwe

          • Mwesigwa Daniel

            It’s not wrong. You should note that the major differences between the U.S IP laws and Uganda’s (primarily borrowed from Britain) differ on the notion of “moral right, ” that this is my baby and thus I get to control what happens to it. The U.S dwells on the First amendment that seeks to enable financial gain from IP. From the best of my knowledge, the constitution of Uganda is the supreme law of the land and hence nullifies any statute, treaty, convention that is inconsistent with it. I digress, I am not a lawyer.

            You have an acumen worthy of respect, now answer the counter question I paused earlier.

          • Abdu Hanan Ssekalala

            If you read to the end you’ll see I answered your question on hosted websites. True the constitution is the supreme law of the land and hence nullifies any statute, treaty, convention that is inconsistent with it however none of the treaties, statues or conventions signed and ratified by Uganda are inconsistent with it.

            My apologies I had skipped the second question, to answer as to where the fillings are made, Patents can be filled with at URSB, through ARIPO or through the PCT route with WIPO

          • Mwesigwa Daniel

            Where does the territorial aspect come in then?

            Your OP said “you can’t patent a website.” Yet clearly, one can patent, copyright and trademark their IP in Uganda and the legislation, however in motion, provide sufficient ground.

          • Abdu Hanan Ssekalala

            You can copyright the content of a website or trademark the website name/logo but you cannot patent a website. The territorial aspect comes in in the sense that while in some countries you might be able to patent certain things in other countries you cannot. Taking the example you gave of Amazon one click the patent is granted for the technique/process not granted for the website.

          • Mwesigwa Daniel

            Look, if a website is replete with functionality classified as an invention or something out of “scene de fraire”, it’s only incumbent to patent that functionality, whether in Uganda or in the U.S. What you’re not mentioning is why a website in Uganda (in whole and/or in part) can not be patented. If the treaties and whatnot don’t provide ground then it could as well be done in another country.

          • Abdu Hanan Ssekalala

            First off a website cannot be patented anywhere in the world U.S or otherwise. Secondly, to get a patent, your invention must meet 3 basic requirements of patentability. It must be 1) new, 2) useful, and 3) non-obvious. If that’s the case, then there are 3 types of patents you can choose to apply for: utility, design, and plant patents. Clearly a website is not a new species of plant, so plant patents are out of the question. A design patent is meant to protect the look, shape, or texture of an article of manufacture. That does not really encompass the look and feel or your website unfortunately, no matter how pixel-perfect the design is. So design patents would not be a viable option for a website.That leaves just utility patents. Utility patents protect machines, processes, articles of manufacture, or compositions of matter. When it comes to websites, the only patentable things are likely the “processes” e.g 1-Click that take place, enabled by the website’s software, or code not the website itself.