The Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) was launched on 6 January 2014 with the express intent of allowing patent applicants to request accelerated examination at any and all patent offices involved in the pilot programme. In ‘Born to be trialed’, IPProPatent investigates how the pilot programme has fared, and speaks to Adams & Adams Partner and Head of Africa Patents, Nicky Garnett, about the situation in Africa. Click here to read the FULL ARTICLE.
Highway to nil
Nicky Garnett, head of Africa patents at Adams & Adams, sheds some light on the concerns and issues that certain African countries might have with global patent projects such as the GPPH. “There is no such thing as an ‘African Patent’, she says, explaining that the continent doesn’t benefit from its own European Patent Convention model.
“We do have two regional systems in Africa, namely the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and the African Intellectual Property Organization, better known as its French name the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI).”
“Africa has 18 states which can be designated in an ARIPO patent application and OAPI has 17 member states. Both systems cater for English as a working language.”
“In addition, unlike a European Patent, no validation process is necessary, so once a patent has been granted it has automatic effect in all designated states in the case of an ARIPO patent and all OAPI member states in the case of an OAPI patent.”
These systems allow for African patents to be relatively easy to acquire in multiple patent offices in the continent. Despite a large patent programme in Africa, Garnett says that the majority of countries in Africa “do not conduct substantive examination of patent applications”, and those that do can have “serious capacity issues.” Africa’s problems with large-scale patenting seem to be mainly in Africa’s largest economies, which aren’t part of either organisation and require separate filings in each jurisdiction, causing problems with capacity.
“In South Africa, where moves to introduce substantive examination are underway and training of examiners has recently begun, it is expected that it will take several years before the South African Patent Office is able to effectively examine applications in all technical fields.” Citing Egypt as an example, Garnett says that its current PPH deal with Japan is the first step towards confidence in the GPPH in South Africa. But there are many countries left in Africa that are concerned about their registration type systems. Most are content with existing systems and, apart from those that have already introduced some form of examination, it seems there is little desire to change the status quo.
Extract courtesy of IPProPatent.com