ARIPO is a community of 18 Former English Colonies which are also English speaking Countries. Member Countries are:
BOTSWANA, GAMBIA, GHANA, KENYA, LESOTHO, LIBERIA, MALAWI, MOZAMBIQUE, NAMIBIA, RWANDA, SIERRA LEONE, SOMALIA, SUDAN, SWAZILAND, TANZANIA, UGANDA, ZAMBIA, ZIMBABWE.
Note that at present following member countries have acceded to the Benjul Protocol; BOTSWANA, LESOTHO, LIBERIA, MALAWI, NAMIBIA, SWAZILAND, TANZANIA, SOMALIA, UGANDA, ZIMBABWE.
However only ZIMBABWE and BOTSWANA, have amended their National Legislation in order to recognise ARIPO. Moreover ZIMBABWE new law to recogise ARIPO trademark not came into force so far, Hence we request all prospective applicant to file application to each national country of ARIPO seprately.
TRADEMARK REGISTRATION UNDER THE ARIPO
African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation known more commonly by its acronym (ARIPO) was established through the Lusaka Agreement and is headquartered at Harare Zimbabwe.
ARIPO is a treaty for the registration of trademarks in the African Region mostly English speaking Countries with the intent of harmonising laws related to Intellectual Property amongst these member countries to ARIPO.
However, understanding the functioning of ARIPO to a great extent helps in choosing one’s options in protecting IPR of which trademarks form an important element of a business undertaking.
REGISTRATION PROCESS OF TRADEMARKS UNDER ARIPO:
· The applicant may file trademark application directly at the ARIPO office in Harare, Zimbabwe or via the Industrial Property Office of the contracting member countries as mentioned above which is known as the Receiving Office.
· The applicant may file the application himself / herself or through an authorised representative such as an attorney. Applicant will have to mandatorily file the application through a representative when the applicant’s principal place or residence or business is outside the Contracting State.
· Filing date will be the date of receiving the application which could be either at the ARIPO office Harare or at the Receiving Office.
· Upon receipt of the application by the ARIPO office, the application will be disbursed by the ARIPO office to the national offices of the designated contracting countries for scrutiny and examination as per national laws of such countries.
· Upon receipt of the application by the national offices of the designated countries, they examine the application as per their national law within 12 months of the disbursement and notify ARIPO about either accepting the mark for registration or refusing the mark for registration.
· This notification will be communicated by ARIPO office to the applicant depending on which the applicant may choose to continue with filing of the application by way of filing the application with individual contracting countries.
· In the event the contracting parties do no notify ARIPO within 12 months, the mark is deemed registered by the contracting member country.
Matters pertaining to:
- Extensions of time
Are the subject matter of the High Commission of Appeal of ARIPO which is a panel of 3 members.
Matters pertaining to:
Are the subject matter of the Domestic Courts of the respective designated Contracting Member Countries.
TRADEMARK SCRUTINY PROCESS UNDER ARIPO:
· Upon receipt of the application at the Receiving Office of the member countries, the application is scrutinised regarding formality compliances. In the event objections found by the examiners, the applicant is informed regarding the same to which the applicant has to respond within the prescribed time as indicated, if not the application is deemed abandoned by the office.
· In the event the application meets all the necessary formality requisites, the application is transmitted/forwarded to the ARIPO office at Harare, within stipulated time to further notify the relevant designated country as indicated on the application for further examination and formality compliances as per their individual national laws. This examination is to be conducted within a prescribed timeline. Once the timeline is up, the trademark is deemed to be registered.
· During the period when the trademark is being considered for registration, or at the time of the application phase, designation of further ARIPO countries is possible.
· Upon the mark being registered, it shall be treated as though it has been registered in each country individually.
CONVERSION PROCESS FROM ARIPO APPLICATION TO NATIONAL APPLICATION:
· In the event ARIPO office refuses registration of the trademark application, the applicant has an option of converting the application into individual national application with chosen contracting countries and file the application individually at their national offices.
· Filing of the conversion application has to be within 3 months from the date of refusal by ARIPO office.
APPLICATION PROCESS UNDER ARIPO:
· The trademark application can be filed through a trademark agent, a legal practitioner having the authority to represent applicant before the receiving offices of the contracting member countries.
· A valid Power of Attorney is required at the time of filing of the application.
· Trademarkcopia’s attorneys are able to help you with the application and registration processes.
CLAIMING PRIORITY UNDER ARIPO:
· Applicants can claim priority of an earlier application filed in a convention country within 6 months from the filing date of such application.
· It is important that, the applicant furnish priority details of the earlier application within 2 months of filing of the trademark application either at ARIPO office or at the Receiving office.
TRADEMARK REGISTRATION AND PUBLICATION UNDER ARIPO:
Upon the mark being registered, it shall be recorded in the register and the mark is published in the ARIPO journal along with the requisites of the national laws of each designated contracting member countries.
TERM OF REGISTRATION UNDER ARIPO:
Trademarks are protected for a term of 10 yrs. from the date of filing of the application with ARIPO. Renewals can be done once every 10 yrs. within the due date or a grace period of 6 months with late payment of fees.