African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO)

ARIPO was established in 1976 in Lusaka, Zambia through the joint efforts of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), when the Agreement on the Creation of an African Regional Industrial Property Organisation (ARIPO) was concluded by a group of 15 founding states. The ARIPO Agreement came into force in 1978. ARIPO was initially open to English-speaking countries of Africa, but the membership provisions have since been amended to be open to members of the UN Economic Commission for Africa or the African Union.

 

African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO)

For assistance or contact with one of our associate offices in a member state of ARIPO:

aripo@adamsadams.com

MEMBERS

  • Botswana
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Rwanda
  • São Tomé and Príncipe
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

The headquarters and administrative offices of ARIPO are located in Harare, Zimbabwe.

ARIPO has adopted two Protocols, the Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs (the Harare Protocol) and the Banjul Protocol on Marks (the Banjul Protocol). Although both of these Protocols provide for the filing of a single application to cover one or more member states designated in the application, a registration which results from such an application does not constitute a regional registration; its effect is that of a national registration in each designated country.

This means that the member countries of ARIPO have retained their national laws on patents, industrial designs and trade marks. As will be shown below, these national laws are applied to determine the registrability, enforcement and other administrative aspects of the relevant right. In this regard, the legal structure of ARIPO differs from that of OAPI, the other African regional organisation (see the chapter on Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI) below).

Furthermore, unlike the position under OAPI, ARIPO does not provide for copyright protection, nor (at this stage) for plant breeders’ rights.

International/regional conventions

ARIPO as a regional organisation is recognised by international organisations of international conventions; however, at present individual ARIPO member states are the members of the various conventions and agreements. For example, ARIPO countries are members of the following international/regional conventions:

  • Berne Convention (all countries are members except Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Uganda)
  • Brussels Convention on Programme-carrying Signals (only Kenya and Rwanda)
  • Budapest Treaty (only Botswana is a member)
  • Hague Agreement on Designs (only Ghana, Namibia and Rwanda are members)
  • Locarno Agreement on Classification of Designs (only Malawi is a member)
  • Madrid Agreement on Marks (Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland are members)
  • Madrid Protocol on Marks (11 countries are members; Gambia, Malawi, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe are not yet members)
  • Nairobi Treaty on Olympic Symbol (only Kenya and Uganda are members)
  • Nice Agreement on Classification of Marks (only Tanziani is a member)
  • Paris Convention (all countries except Somalia)
  • Patent Cooperation Treaty (all countries except Somalia)
  • Phonograms Convention (only Kenya is a member)
  • Rome Convention (only Lesotho and Liberia are members)
  • Strasbourg Agreement on Patent Classification (only Malawi is a member)
  • WIPO Convention (all countries are members)
  • WIPO Copyright Treaty (only Botswana and Ghana are members)
  • WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (only Botswana is a member)
  • WTO/TRIPS (all countries are members except Liberia, Somalia and Sudan).

Trade Marks

The Banjul Protocol on Marks was adopted in 1993 in Banjul, Gambia and came into force on 6 March 1997. The Protocol is open to all member countries of ARIPO. The Regulations to implement the Protocol were adopted in November 1999.

The current membership of the Banjul Protocol is 9 countries:

Botswana (since 1985)

Malawi (since 1997)*

Tanzania (since 1999)*

Lesotho (since 1985)*

Namibia (since 2004)*

Uganda (since 2000)*

Liberia (since 2010)

Swaziland (1997)*

Zimbabwe (since 1997)

The Banjul Protocol provides for the filing of a single trade mark application, filed either at the ARIPO office, located in Harare, Zimbabwe or at the industrial property office of a member state, to have effect in those member states designated in the application.

* Note: Not all signatories of the Banjul Protocol have incorporated the provisions of the Protocol into their national laws. Those countries marked with * in the list above have not yet implemented the Banjul Protocol by way of national laws. As such there is doubt as regards the validity in those countries of trade marks registered under the ARIPO system.

Once a mark has been registered under the Banjul Protocol, it is protected in each designated state as if the mark had been filed and registered in such state, unless a state has indicated that the registration shall have no effect in that particular state. If the ARIPO office notifies the designated states that an application complies with all formal requirements, a designated state may, before the expiration of 12 months from the date of the notification from the ARIPO office, make a written communication to the ARIPO office to the effect that the registration of the mark will have no effect within its territory.

Patents

The Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs (the Harare Protocol) was adopted in 1982 in Harare, Zimbabwe and entered into force on 25 April 1984. Subsequent amendments were effected in 1987 and 1994. The Protocol is open to all member countries of ARIPO. The Regulations to implement the Protocol were adopted in 1984 and amended in 1994.

The current membership of the Harare Protocol is 17 countries:

Botswana (since 1985)  * Malawi (since 1984)              * Swaziland (since 1988)

Gambia (since 1986)         Mozambique (since 2000) * Tanzania (since 1999)

Ghana (since 1984)        * Namibia (since 2004)               Uganda (since 1984)

Kenya (since 1984)         * Rwanda (since 2011)                Zambia (since 1986)

Lesotho (since 1987)      * Sierra Leone (since 1999)       Zimbabwe (since 1984)

Liberia (since 2010)

The Harare Protocol provides for the filing of a single patent application, and the filing of a single design application, to have effect in those member states which are designated in the application. Once granted, the registration of the patent (or design) will have the same effect as a national registration in those member states designated in the application.

* Note: Not all signatories of the Harare Protocol have incorporated the provisions of the Protocol into their national laws. Those countries marked * in the list above have not yet implemented the Protocol in their national laws. As such, there is doubt regarding the validity in those countries of patents granted under the ARIPO system.

A patent application is filed either with the industrial property office of a contracting state, or at the ARIPO office in Harare. The application must designate the contracting states in which the patent is sought. When a patent is granted, it extends automatically to those member countries that have been designated in the application, unless a designated country has made a written communication to the ARIPO office that the patent will have no effect in that country. The granted patent is then subject to the respective national laws.

Designs

The Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs (the Harare Protocol) adopted in 1982 and entering into force on 25 April 1984, applies to the registration of industrial designs. The Protocol was amended in 1987 and 1994. The Regulations to implement the Protocol were adopted in 1984 and amended in 1994.

See the section above on PATENTS for the current country membership of the Harare Protocol. The Protocol provides for the filing of a single design application to have effect in those member states designated in the application. Once granted, a design registration will have the effect of a national registration in those designated states. As with patents, the legal position is uncertain in those member states which have not implemented the provisions of the Harare Protocol in their national legislation.

A design application is filed with the industrial property office of a contracting state or at the ARIPO office in Harare, designating the states in which protection is sought, whereupon the prescribed procedure and examination will follow.

Once an industrial design is registered, it has effect in those designated states which did not make a written communication rejecting the registration.

Copyright

The Lusaka Agreement and the ARIPO Protocols address only industrial property rights, despite the change by the Organisation of its name to refer to intellectual property. The ARIPO instruments contain no provisions dealing with copyright.

Accordingly, the national laws of the ARIPO member states will determine the position in regard to the protection of copyright.

Plant Breeders' Rights

Neither the Lusaka Agreement nor the Harare Protocol makes any reference to the protection of plants or plant varieties. Accordingly, the national laws of the member states will determine the position in this regard.

Recently, a new protocol for regional plant variety protection for ARIPO was proposed. Developments in this regard are awaited.