ARIPO – Banjul Protocol on Trade Marks

The African Regional Industrial Property Organization (ARIPO) was founded in 1976 to facilitate the harmonization and development of industrial property matters of a number of English-speaking African member states. The current member states are Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Banjul Protocol on Marks was adopted by the member countries of ARIPO in November 1993, with the provision that the Protocol would enter into force three months following the date on which it was ratified by at least three countries. As of December 6, 1996, Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe had deposited their instruments of ratification of the Banjul Protocol on Marks which, therefore, became effective on March 6, 1997, with respect to these three countries. Since that time Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Tanzania and Uganda have also become party to the Banjul Protocol.

The Banjul Protocol provides for a centralized trademark registration procedure. Applications for trademark registrations may be submitted either to the ARIPO Office or to the Industrial Property Office of a member state, and must designate the member state(s) where registration is sought. Applicants for registration of a trademark may claim priority in accordance with Article 4 of the Paris Convention within six months from the date of their earliest application in another Paris Convention country. A single trademark application may be filed in respect of multiple classes of goods and/or services, in accordance with the International Classification system, although a member state that does not recognize multiple-class registrations may treat the same as separate registrations for each class, provided that each registration refers to the other. In addition, the ultimate enforcement of registered rights will be in accordance with national laws so that, for example, an ARIPO registration covering services will not be enforceable in a member state that does not recognize service mark protection.

Provided that an application complies with formal requirements, the application will be forwarded by the ARIPO Office to the designated member state(s), which are granted a 12-month period to examine and reject the application on the basis of either non-conformity with national laws, or the nature of the mark. After the 12-month period expires, an application will be registered with effect in those states which have no objections. If refused, an applicant may request within a 3-month period that the application be processed under the national laws of a member state.

Trademark registrations are granted for a period of 10 years and may be renewed for further 10-year periods within 12 months prior to the expiration date, or within 6 months from the expiration date upon payment of an additional fee.

Assignments and licenses may be recorded in national Trademark Offices or, where there is no provision for such recordal under the national laws, with the ARIPO Office.

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