The Africa IP SME Helpdesk is a project co-funded by the European Union to support European Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in protecting and enforcing their intellectual property (IP) rights in Africa.
The Helpdesk provides the following services free of
- We provide replies to IP-related enquiries within three business days. Please send your queries to email@example.com.
- You can participate in on-site training courses organised across the EU and Africa. You can also join our webinars (online training) in front of your computer. For our events calendar, please visit the Events section of this website.
- You can also download practical IP guides focusing on general and industrial IP issues as well as self-learning tools from our website.
- We can offer tailored training on IP in Africa from our offices in Cameroon and Zimbabwe. If there is a topic that your organisation is interested in learning more about, please contact us at the email address above.
Yes, all our services are free of charge for SMEs and intermediaries from the European Union.
The Helpdesk operates an Enquiry Helpline that can be reached via: Phone Number: Europe (Spain): +34 965139810. Upon contacting us, you will receive a reply within three working days. You can also call us at firstname.lastname@example.org from 09.00am to 05.00pm, EU time. You can also schedule an appointment for one-on-one consultation at our Zimbabwe and Cameroon offices.
Yes, the Africa IP SME Helpdesk offices are located in Cameroon and Zimbabwe, hosted by the EU-funded AfrIPI project. You can visit us during working hours or schedule an appointment via the contact points indicated on the website.
The project provides first-line advice and resources to help you navigate the IP system in Africa, but we do not handle registrations, negotiations and other specialised legal services. We cannot draft a contract for specific cases, but can help you identify the key points that you should watch out for or discuss with you lawyer.
Yes, the European Union has Helpdesks to support European SMEs with IP-related information in China, Europe, India, South-East Asia and Latin America.
The Africa IP SME Helpdesk only provides support and advice related to IP.
The Helpdesk operates a confidential service Enquiry Helpline that can be reached via: email@example.com. Upon contacting us, all your queries will receive a tailor-made answer from our IP experts within three working days. Questions can be asked in any of the EU languages. You can also call us at +34 965 139 810, from 9 am to 5 pm CET.
Please send us an email requesting to be added to our emailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org, where we will share with you the latest updates and webinars on Africa.
Alternatively, follow us on Social Media, where we post the latest news and webinars on the Africa IP Helpdesk.
You can follow us on:
Facebook - Africa IPR – https://www.facebook.com/AfricaIPR
LinkedIn - Africa IPR - https://www.linkedin.com/company/africaipr/
AfrIPI is an EU international cooperation project, co-funded and implemented by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). It has an initial duration of 4 years starting from February 2020.
The overall objective of AfrIPI is to facilitate intra-African trade and African and European investment. It specifically aims to create, protect, utilise, administer and enforce IPR across Africa, in line with international and European best practices and in support of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
The launch of the AfCFTA is a major step towards regional integration within the African continent and its objectives include the creation of a free market for goods and services, and the facilitation of trade and investment.
In this context, the AfrIPI project, funded under the Pan-African Programme, aims to boost the economic integration of the African continent by strengthening and improving the systems for IPR creation, protection, utilisation, administration and enforcement.
One of the project’s components is the Africa IP SME Helpdesk. Read more at:
Following the definition of a Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) by the European Commission, the main factors determining whether an enterprise is an SME is having fewer than 250 staff and a maximum of EUR 50 million turnover or a maximum of EUR 43 million balance sheet total. These boundaries apply to individual firms only. A firm that is part of a larger group may need to include staff headcount/turnover/balance sheet data from that group too. Read more here.
Intellectual property rights (‘IPRs’ or ‘IP rights’) are legally enforceable rights over the use of inventions or other creative works. As per the definition of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO - wipo.int/about-ip), ‘IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trade marks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and the wider public interest, the IP system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish’.
Trade marks, patents, utility models, industrial designs, copyrights, plant breeders’ rights, layout designs of integrated circuits, geographical indications (GIs), new plant varieties and traditional knowledge, genetic resources and expressions of folklore. However, certain variations on definitions and categories may be found in each country.
IP rights, as intangible assets, are key to the competitiveness of your business in the global economy. IP rights are a primary method for securing a return on investment in innovation, creativity and reputation, and this is particularly relevant to SMEs as they internationalise their businesses to non-EU markets like Africa. Apart from helping you protect your innovations from competitors, IP rights can also be an important source of cash flow through licensing deals or IP sales. They are also a significant pull factor for attracting investors.
In Africa, local registration is necessary in most cases to protect your IP, and most of the offices operate on a first-to-file system. Hence, an IP protection and management strategy should be put in place at least a year beforehand (in order to finish the necessary IP registrations; without registration, you can’t enforce your rights in most cases) if your company has short to medium-term plans to do business in or with Africa, including if you only wish to manufacture in Africa.
To protect your rights, it is highly recommended that you register your rights before you attend trade fairs, meet with potential partners or start to sell online.
Once you enter the African market, you will most likely have limited options to take preventative action or the cost and risk will be higher.
In Africa, like in Europe, there are international, regional (ARIPO & OAPI) and national systems. A good number of IP laws and regulations are in line with international standards. It is important to note that IP rights are territorial, meaning that they are enforceable in a third country only upon valid domestic registration. It is important to consult with local experts to identify major differences in relation to protection and enforcement.
Yes, IP laws within African countries have separate jurisdictions; thus, specific regulations apply. IP rights applications/registrations in Africa are available at national, regional and international levels. Please refer to our IP Factsheets for additional details.
The various types of IP rights can be applied for and registered directly in the African countries through their national IP offices.
Registration is available through the national offices of member states or directly through the regional offices of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) and the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle.
Registration is available through the national offices or regional offices. Through national offices, registration is completed directly with the local intellectual property office. In regional offices, registration is completed through the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle
Searching for trade marks before you apply is an important action to minimize any possible conflict. You can search for registered trademarks, via ARIPO tool http://regionalip.aripo.org/wopublish-search/public/home?3 and the Tmview
A domain name is used in the Internet to identify particular web pages. Every domain name has a suffix that indicates the Top Level Domain (TLD) to which it belongs. The TLD is the part of an internet domain name which can be found to the right of the last point.
For more information about .eu top-level domain and its variants in other scripts please click on the following link.
A trade mark is a sign that serves the specific and primary purpose of identifying the origin of goods or services, thus allowing consumers to distinguish goods or services of one producer from those of another. The sign may be composed of words, devices, letters, numerals, three-dimensional signs (shapes), combinations of colours, sounds or any combinations of the above.
In order for you to own the trade mark in an African country, you need to register it in the respective African country of interest or region. A trade mark registered in the EU (at the national or EU level) is not protected in Africa. Africa operates a first-to-file system, meaning that the person or company that first submits a valid application will own the mark. IP registration in Africa is available at national, regional and international levels. Please refer to our IP Factsheets for additional details of the specific African country you would like to register with.
The cost of registration varies from one country to another. Consult the fact sheet of the country where you would like to register for further details.
IP agents are available for each African country. For additional tips and resources on selecting an IP agent, please refer to ARIPO IP agents and OAPI IP agents.
Some of the African countries are part of the Madrid system. Please click here for a list of countries under the Madrid system.
A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. A patent prevents an invention from being commercially made, used, distributed or sold without the patent owner’s consent. The patent system in Africa includes both invention and utility model (UMs) patents.
In order for you to own a patent in an African country, you need to register it in the respective African country of interest. A European patent does not confer any protection in Africa. The registration of IP in Africa is available at national, regional and international levels. Please refer to our IP Factsheets for additional details for the specific African country you would like to register with.
Some of the African countries are part of the PCT system. Please click here for a list of countries under the PCT system.
Copyright is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. It includes ‘moral rights’ which are personal and cannot be waived, licensed or transferred (e.g. the right to be recognised as author or ‘paternity right’), and ‘economic rights’ which can be transferred, and give authors and/or authorised entities the exclusive right to exploit the work (e.g. the distribution right).
As per the definition of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO https://www.wipo.int/designs/en/ ), ‘in a legal sense, an industrial design constitutes the ornamental aspect of an article. An industrial design may consist of three-dimensional features, such as the shape of an article, or two-dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or colour.’
An industrial design can be protected in any African country by applying for and registering it with the respective IP office of the desired country of protection.
Besides the available IP Factsheets, one can also get information from national IP offices. In the website of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), there is a Directory of Intellectual Property Offices, where you can find the contact details of all IP offices in Africa.
National trade mark gives protection only in the member state in which it has been registered, while ARIPO trade mark gives its owner an exclusive right in all current and future ARIPO Member States: Botswana, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Swaziland, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
It is entirely up to the strategies of the applicants whether they want to get national, regional, ARIPO-wide or international registration of their trade mark.
For any further information and benefits of registering a trade mark under a ARIPO Trade Mark please click on https://www.aripo.org/
Any natural or legal person, including authorities established under public law, can be the proprietor of an ARIPO trade mark.
Product/good: any kind of item that may be traded. Service: the provision of activities in accordance with human needs. Your application for an ARIPO trade mark must contain a representation of the trade mark you want to register and a list of the goods and/or services to be covered by the mark. ARIPO has the following set of tools: http://regionalip.aripo.org/wopublish-search/public/home;jsessionid=9689ADCFC0948BDF81C6FDF0140D9071?0
But you can also use the EUIPO set of online tools available for the creation of your list of goods and services:
And the EPO espacenet: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/
Yes, a national registration can be obtained. In the ARIPO member states, there is a four-tier system for registering trade marks. What you choose depends on the needs of your business.
The essential function that they perform is different:
• A design is essentially intended to determine the shape of a product.
• A trade mark is also applied to the product (see examples in the link). The main function of a trade mark is to identify a particular trade origin in connection with specific goods and/or services.
EUIPO has available an eLearning Portal with available Intellectual Property (IP) courses for all levels by clicking on the following link.
Yes, a trade mark may be used at any stage, even before filing the application. However, this use does not guarantee the registration of the trade mark.
An EU trade mark protection is obtained by registration. However, the ARIPO trade mark application entitles the applicant to file oppositions against trade mark applications filed later that may be identical or similar to the applicant's trade mark for identical or related goods and/or services. Additionally, an EU trade mark application may be transferred, subject to rights in rem, levied in execution, involved in insolvency proceedings and licensed, among other possibilities.
No, there is no legal basis that makes such use compulsory. However, the proprietor of the trade mark may freely choose to use them.
In Africa, in addition to the national IP offices, there are two regional intellectual property (IP) offices: the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), mainly for the English-speaking countries, and the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle/African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), mainly for the French-speaking countries. Not all the African countries are members of one of these organisations. ARIPO is also party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty, but not to the Madrid Protocol.
ARIPO is an inter-governmental organisation (IGO) headquartered in Harare, Zimbabwe, that facilitates cooperation in IP matters in particular among 20 African states: Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
ARIPO’s mandate covers copyright, patents and utility models, industrial designs, trade marks, traditional knowledge and folklore and new plant variety protection. In addition, ARIPO has a policy framework which guides its Member States on access and benefit sharing, arising from the use of genetic resources.
In terms of trade marks, the ARIPO system is governed by the Banjul Protocol and is available in 12 of the 20 Member States: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
The trade mark system under the Banjul Protocol allows for registration of trade marks in all the member states through a single procedure. An applicant may file a single application either in one of the Banjul Protocol Member States or directly at the ARIPO Office.
Patents, utility models and industrial designs are administered under the Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs and, currently, 18 states can be designated. By filing a single application, the applicant may designate any of the Harare Protocol Contracting States for protection. These are Botswana, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Applications are made directly at ARIPO, or through the Member States’ IP offices. The applicant designates the countries in which protection is to be obtained. The online service can be accessed at eservice.aripo.org or from the ARIPO website: https://www.aripo.org/ or by contacting ARIPO at: email@example.com. The online filing option has a 20 % reduction of the application fee. For more information, see: https://www.aripo.org/.
The ARIPO website has the list of accredited IP lawyers per member state: https://www.aripo.org/ip-agents/.
Are there IPR databases in ARIPO countries?
There is an online search tool available here: http://regionalip.aripo.org/wopublish-search/public/home;jsessionid=9689ADCFC0948BDF81C6FDF0140D9071?0.
Yes, the trade mark protection is available in 12 ARIPO member states in a single procedure and with a single set of fees. Registration will cover the following countries: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
ARIPO is mandated to register marks and to administer those registered marks in accordance with the provisions of the Banjul Protocol on Marks on behalf of the Banjul Protocol Contracting States. The Banjul Protocol on Marks was adopted on 19 November 1993, at Banjul, The Gambia.
The Banjul Protocol establishes a trade mark application filing system along the lines of the Harare Protocol. An applicant may file a single application either in one of the Banjul Protocol Contracting States or directly at the ARIPO Office.
ARIPO is not a party to the Madrid Protocol. However, some of its Member States are so each state may be designated individually under the Madrid Protocol, but not all the ARIPO member states at once.
An application may be filed by any qualified natural or legal person, either in person or through an authorised representative. Where the applicant is neither an ordinary resident nor has their principal place of business in any of the Banjul Protocol Contracting States, they must be represented to file an application. The ARIPO website has the list of accredited IP lawyers per member state: https://www.aripo.org/ip-agents/.
Information on the fees and forms for the ARIPO trade mark are available here: https://www.aripo.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Banjul-Protocol-Fees.pdf.
Yes, by filing one application patent protection is available in the following 18 ARIPO member states: Botswana, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
ARIPO is mandated to grant patents on behalf of the Harare Protocol Contracting States in accordance with the provisions of the Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs. The Harare Protocol was adopted on 10 December 1982 at Harare, Zimbabwe, and entered into force in 1984.
Information on application procedures, forms and fees is available here. Where the applicant is neither an ordinary resident nor has their principal place of business in any of the Harare Protocol Contracting States, they must be represented to file an application. The ARIPO website has the list of accredited IP lawyers per member state.
Yes, by filing one application industrial design protection is available in the following 18 ARIPO member states: Botswana, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
ARIPO is empowered to register and administer designs on behalf of the Harare Protocol Contracting States in accordance with the provisions of the Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs. The Harare Protocol was adopted on 10 December 1982 at Harare, Zimbabwe, and entered into force in 1984.
Information on application procedures, forms and fees is available here. Where the applicant is neither an ordinary resident nor has their principal place of business in any of the Harare Protocol Contracting States, they must be represented to file an application. The ARIPO website has the list of accredited IP lawyers per member state.
Although some sources suggest otherwise, read more here, it is not possible to register foreign GIs except other than as a n ordinary trade mark. The Banjul Protocol at present does not allow for the registration of collective or certification marks.
Previously, ARIPO did not have any protection for copyrights and related rights. The administration of copyright and related rights in the ARIPO Member States was enabled by legislation that each country put into place with regard to the registration of copyrights and related rights. However, on 28 August 2021 during a Diplomatic Conference that was held in Kampala, Uganda, ARIPO Member States adopted the Kampala Protocol on Voluntary Registration of Copyright and Related Rights. The Protocol will enter into force as soon as ARIPO’s Administrative Council has developed the necessary implementing regulations under Article 18 of the Protocol, in order to ensure a prompt and efficient implementation of the Protocol.
When the Protocol enters into force it will establish a Regional Voluntary Registration of Copyright and Related Rights and create and maintain a Regional Database for Copyright and Related Rights for the ARIPO Member States. This will benefit them in different ways, such as:
- enhancing an effective and efficient network between the national offices in charge of Copyright and Related Rights and the regional office;
- providing an effective means of presumption as to authorship and/or ownership;
- facilitating commercialisation;
- stimulating creativity and expanding markets; and
- attracting direct foreign investment and facilitating the enforcement of rights.
Yes, by filing one application traditional knowledge protection is available in the following 8 ARIPO member states: Botswana, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, The Gambia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
ARIPO is mandated under the Swakopmund Protocol on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Folklore to protect the holders of traditional knowledge against any infringement of their rights and to protect expressions of folklore against misappropriation, misuse and unlawful exploitation.
Information on application procedures, forms and fees is available here. Where the applicant is neither an ordinary resident nor has their principal place of business in any of the Swakopmund Protocol Contracting States, they must be represented to file an application. The ARIPO website has the list of accredited IP lawyers per member state.
ARIPO has the Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants that was signed at a Diplomatic Conference held in Arusha, Tanzania on 6 July 2015. However, the Protocol is not yet in effect as it will only enter into force when four states have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession with the Director General of ARIPO. The following member states have signed the Protocol: Ghana, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, Tanzania and The Gambia.
Once effective, the Protocol will enable ARIPO to grant and protect plant breeders’ rights and administer such rights on behalf of the designated Contracting States.
In Africa, in addition to the national IP offices, there are two regional intellectual property (IP) offices, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), mainly for the English-speaking countries, and the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle/African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), mainly for the French speaking-countries. Not all the African countries are members of one of these organisations.
The OAPI is an IP organisation, headquartered in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The organisation was created by the Bangui Agreement of 2 March 1977 (amended in 1999).
Its Member States are mostly French-speaking countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
The organisation provides uniform procedures for the protection of industrial property rights. This means that OAPI registrations automatically extend to all its member states; it is neither necessary nor possible to designate individual member states. The decisions issued by a national court of any member state on the provisions of the OAPI law are binding on all other member states.
Similarly, although its member states are Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) contracting states, they must be designated for a regional patent through OAPI (i.e., the ‘national route’ via the PCT has been closed). Its member states are also members of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. Read more at: http://www.oapi.int/index.php/en.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is as an organisation with 21 member states that have agreed to cooperate in developing their natural and human resources for the good of all their peoples. As such, it has a wide-ranging series of objectives which necessarily include in its priorities the promotion of peace and security in the region. However, its main focus is on the formation of a large economic and trading unit that is capable of overcoming some of the barriers faced by individual states.
The objectives are to reduce the cost of cross-border trade by removing internal barriers, to increase local private-sector participation in regional and global value chains, and to enhance the institutional capacity of the COMESA Secretariat and its member states to deepen regional integration.
COMESA is composed of Burundi, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, which, all together, cover almost two thirds of the African continent with an area of 12 million km2.
In terms of IP, COMESA has an IPR Policy, aimed at promoting the use of IPR among its member states, to allow a shift from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy. Read more at: https://www.comesa.int/.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is an inter-governmental organisation headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana. Its goal is to further regional socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among 16 countries in southern Africa.
Its member states are: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The SADC has no regional IP agreements, protocols, or IP registration systems in place. It has an Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063) that focuses on promoting the use and enforcement of IPR to encourage research, development and innovation amongst SADC countries. Read more at: https://www.sadc.int/.
The Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) is made up of six States: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. With a total population of about 37 million, it covers a total area of around 3 million km2. Together with the larger Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the mainly inactive Economic Community of the Great Lake Countries (CEPGL), CEMAC represents one of the Central African regional communities established to promote cooperation and exchange among its members. CEMAC’s main mission is to promote harmonised development in its member states in the framework of a common market.
Its objectives are to:
- strengthen the competitiveness of economic and financial activities by harmonising the regulations that govern them;
- ensure the convergence towards sustainable economic and financial performance by coordinating economic policies and ensuring the consistency of national budgetary policies with the common monetary policy;
- create a common market based on the free movement of persons, goods, capital and services;
- ensure the coordination of national sector policies in the following areas: agriculture, livestock, fishing, industry, commerce, transport, telecommunications, energy, environment, research, education and professional training; implement common actions and adopt common policies.
CEMAC’s specialised organisms are: ISSEA (Institut Sous-régional de Statistique et d’Économie Appliquée/Sub-Regional Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics), EIED (École Inter-États des Douanes), ISTA (Institut Sous–Régional Multisectoriel de Technologie Appliquée, de Planification et d'Evaluation des Projets). The Commission of CEMAC is responsible for preparing the documentation necessary for the multilateral monitoring system. For this, reliable socio-economic data are necessary to evaluate national performances and to compare domestic situations in the sub-regions. To this end, the Commission of CEMAC aims to improve the quality and harmonisation of statistics of member states, and to extend their scope.
Read more at: https://www.devex.com/organizations/central-african-economic-and-monetary-community-cemac-52313.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organisation dealing with the guidelines of trade between nations. Most of the world’s trading nations have negotiated and signed the WTO agreements and ratified them in their parliaments. The WTO’s goal is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible. Read more at: WTO | About the organization.
The WTO is made up of 164 member states and 25 observer governments, with 44 African member states which include: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Eswatini , Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, The Gambia, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The WTO African observer states include: Algeria, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Libya, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.
The WTO has an Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which was negotiated during the 1986-94 Uruguay Round and introduced IP rules into the multilateral trading system for the first time. Read more at: WTO | Understanding the WTO - Intellectual property: protection and enforcement.
The WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on IP. It plays a central role in facilitating trade in knowledge and creativity, in resolving trade disputes over IP, and in assuring WTO members the latitude to achieve their domestic policy objectives. It frames the IP system in terms of innovation, technology transfer and public welfare. The Agreement is a legal recognition of the significance of links between IP and trade and the need for a balanced IP system. Read more at: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/trips_e.htm.
Currently all WTO African member states are signatories of TRIPS. The members of WTO approved changes to the TRIPS Agreement in order to make permanent a decision on patents and public health originally adopted in 2003. This was formally built into the TRIPS Agreement after acceptance of the Protocol amending the TRIPS Agreement by two thirds of the WTO’s members. The amendment took effect on 23 January 2017 and replaced the 2003 waiver for members who had accepted the amendment. Members have until 31 December 2021 to accept the amendment; the waiver will continue to apply until the amendment is accepted and takes effect.
The following member African countries have accepted the amendment to the TRIPS agreement: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda and Zambia.
The African Union (AU) is a continental body made up of the 55 member states that make up the countries of the African continent. It was officially launched in 2002 as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU, 1963-1999). The AU’s vision is to have ‘[a]n Integrated, Prosperous and Peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena’. Read more at: https://au.int/en.
The Heads of State and Government of the African Union adopted the Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which was signed in March 2018, in Kigali, Rwanda.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a free trade area founded in 2018, with trade commencing as of 1 January 2021. It was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement between 54 of the 55 African Union nations. As at 7 July 2021, 37 countries had deposited their instruments of ratification (ordered by date):
Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Niger, Chad, Eswatini, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Namibia, South Africa, Congo, Djibouti, Mauritania, Uganda, Senegal, Togo, Egypt, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, São Tomé and Príncipe, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Mauritius, Central African Republic, Angola, Lesotho, Tunisia, Cameroon, Nigeria, Malawi, Zambia and Algeria.
The agreement covers trade in goods, trade in services, investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy. Read more at: Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area | African Union (au.int).
The overarching objective behind the AfCFTA is the elimination or reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers amongst the 54 member states by providing a single market for goods and services, facilitated by free movement of persons in order to deepen the economic integration and prosperity of the African continent.
AfCFTA provides the ideal framework to promote continental harmonisation of IPR frameworks, in line with the relevant international treaties (in addition to the multiple Economic Partnership Instruments (EPIs) existing or being negotiated between African countries and regions and the EU).
The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of 6 Partner States: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. Its mission is to broaden and deepen economic, political, social and cultural integration in order to improve the quality of life of the people of East Africa through increased competitiveness, value added production, trade and investments.
Its work is guided by the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, which was signed on 30 November 1999 and entered into force on 7 July 2000. The treaty is available here.
TMview is an online consultation tool allowing any internet user to search for trade marks of all the trade mark offices involved in the initiative, free of charge. It is a multilingual and easy-to-use tool that gives access to trade marks provided by the participating offices through a single and unique platform. Each office owns the content it makes available and is responsible for its daily update (https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/#/tmview).
Yes, you can do the trade mark search, however currently it is possible for the IP offices of ARIPO, OAPI, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Zambia, for more information check the website (https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/#/tmview).
Yes, TMview is a free online tool which allows any Internet user to search for trade marks from all participating offices (https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/#/tmview).
Yes, the tool can be used 24 hours per day, 7 days per week and year
round (365 days (https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/#/tmview
You can find details on trade marks such as legal status, graphic representation, list of goods and services, etc (https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/#/tmview).
Yes, you can export or print trade mark information to PDF & Excel (https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/#/tmview).
When you launch a search, it is added to the Last searches in ascending chronological order. By clicking on each item in the search history, the search returns a list of results (https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/#/tmview).
When a territory is selected, the corresponding offices are selected by default (i.e. if Austria is selected as a territory, the default offices are AT Austria OPA, EUIPO and WIPO). You can deselect any of those offices by clicking the x symbol (https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/#/tmview).
You can refine the results by applying the logical operators AND/OR/NOT when searching with Goods and Services or Vienna codes (https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/#/tmview).
The search algorithm for trade mark denomination has been improved so that the results are displayed by relevance (best matches at the top of the page) (https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/#/tmview).
You can easily refine your search by using the filters available on the left-hand side of the results list. When any of the filter criteria is checked or unchecked, the list of results is immediately updated (https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/#/tmview).
You can select two trade marks from the list of results and click the comparison functionality (scales symbol).
The results are displayed side by side with all the information from the selected trade marks so you can easily compare them. The list of Goods and Services is complemented with the option for translation through the Harmonised Database and Google® Translate (https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/#/tmview).
The image search functionality can be triggered for the graphic representation of any trade mark displayed in the list of results or in the trade mark details.
Using this option, the image of the selected trade mark will be automatically uploaded and could be edited before launching the new search (https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/#/tmview).
You have the option to translate the list of Goods and Services into any of the TMview languages. In addition, you can see the comparison of the translation with the original version (https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/#/tmview).
Yes, you can do the design search, however currently it is possible for the IP offices of ARIPO, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt for more information check the website (https://www.tmdn.org/tmdsview-web/#/dsview).
Yes, you can use DesignView to check the availability of a design.(https://www.tmdn.org/tmdsview-web/#/dsview).
Yes, DesignView is a free online tool which allows any Internet user to search for designs from all participating designs offices (https://www.tmdn.org/tmdsview-web/#/dsview).
You can find detailed designs information and link to the webpage of the office of origin and also view statistics on designs corresponding to a specific criteria (https://www.tmdn.org/tmdsview-web/#/dsview).
Yes, you can discover what your competitors are protecting (https://www.tmdn.org/tmdsview-web/#/dsview).
When a territory is selected, the corresponding offices are selected by default (i.e. if Austria is selected as a territory, the default offices are AT Austria OPA, EUIPO and WIPO). You can deselect any of those offices by clicking the x symbol (https://www.tmdn.org/tmdsview-web/#/dsview).
You can easily refine your search by using the filters available on the left-hand side of the results list. When any of the filter criteria is checked or unchecked, the list of results is immediately updated (https://www.tmdn.org/tmdsview-web/#/dsview).
You can select two designs from the list of results and click the comparison functionality (scales symbol).
The results are displayed side by side with all the information from the selected desings so you can easily compare them. The list of Goods and Services is complemented with the option for translation through the Harmonised Database and Google® Translate (https://www.tmdn.org/tmdsview-web/#/dsview).
You have the option to translate the list of Indications of products into any of the DesignView languages. In addition, you can see the comparison of the translation with the original version (https://www.tmdn.org/tmdsview-web/#/dsview).