Central organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli has filed an application seeking an exclusive trademark for the viral ‘alaa!’ phrase used in most Kenyan memes.

In an application filed at the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI), Atwoli argues that he is originator of the phrase and seeks an exclusive license to it. Additionally, Atwoli also wants the phrases “alaaa” and “alaaaa” which are variations of “alaa” licensed to him.

In the application, Atwoli also wants business ventures blocked from using the phrases in their branding, unless they engage him first.

“‘Alaa’ has no English translation. It is more of a slogan, chant or an exclamation specific and attributed publicly to myself,” his application read in part as quoted by Nation.


COTU Boss Francis Atwoli. [Photo: Courtesy]

While confirming Atwoli’s trademark application, KIPI noted that anyone opposed to the application has until December 29, 2021 to file their petition.

“It should be filed together with a fee of Kshs 5,000 (local opponent) or $250 (foreign opponent),” KIP was quoted by the local daily.

If the application is approved and granted as requested, anyone who intends to use the phrase must either pay for it or seek consent from Atwoli, failure to which that will amount to trademark infringement, which is punishable by law.