Scottish Whisky Now Protected as a Geographical Indicator in 18 African Countries.

The retail market in Africa is getting more sophisticated, as countries with a growing middle class show increased interest in high end consumer brands. This has seen international brand owners taking greater interest in protecting their IP on the continent. Scotch whisky is already protected as a Geographical Indication meaning that in nearly 100 countries including the whole of the European Union only whisky produced in Scotland under certain standards can bear the name Scotch whisky. A Geographical Indication right allows rights holders the right to use the indication to prevent use by a third party whose product do not conform to the applicable standards. In this case, in addition to th

São Tomé and Principe - 10th Contracting Party to the Banjul Protocol

Sao Tome acceded to the Banjul Protocol on 27 November 2015. It will become a contracting state and eligible for designation as of 27 February 2016. This accession brings the number of member states party to the Banjul Protocol to 10. The Banjul Protocol establishes a centralised trade mark registration process for English speaking African countries who are members of the African Regional Industrial Property Organisation (ARIPO). It is worth noting that of the 9 (now 10) ARIPO member states only Botswana, Liberia and Zimbabwe have amended their Trade Marks Acts to make specific provision for the recognition of rights flowing from ARIPO registrations and are therefore the only member states i

Maasai lose 5 Year Battle to Revert Land Sale and Protect their Indigenous Knowledge

On 27th October 2015 the High Court of Tanzania, handing down its judgement in the case lodged by the Maasai of Northern Tanzania to revert the sale of their traditional land to US based company Thomson’s Safari, rejected the Maasias petition and ruled in favour of Thomsons Safari. The decision, putting an end to a 5 year long legal battle to save their community land whose use is set to be converted from pastoral to tourism. The main contention of the Maasai in this case is that when the land is converted to a tourist site, the indigenous/traditional knowledge passed from generation to generation will no longer have any practical application as access to invaluable resources will be limited

OAPI accedes to the Singapore Treaty

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has issued a notification that the African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI) has acceded to the Singapore Treaty. The notification (which can be accessed here) states that the instrument of accession was deposited with WIPO on 13 November 2015 and as such the Treaty will enter into force in OAPI on 13 February 2016, with certain Articles being declared to be not applicable in OAPI. According to WIPO’s website, the objective of the Singapore Treaty is to “create a modern and dynamic international framework for the harmonization of administrative trademark registration procedures”. The Singapore Treaty is based on the Trademark Law Tr

Key Themes and Drivers for Africa in 2016

NKC African Economics, a South African company of which the majority shareholder is independent global advisory firm Oxford Economics, recently presented a webinar entitled “Outlook for Africa – Key Themes and Drivers in 2016”. According to NKC African Economics’ website, they evaluate the political and macroeconomic conditions of 30 African countries and use the information obtained to assess each country’s sovereign risk based on a ratings model they developed themselves. Contrary to the sunny predictions by many other companies, NKC African Economics predicts that 2016 is likely to be a challenging year from a political and macroeconomic perspective. Major themes and drivers of this outlo

Zambia to Strengthen IP Protection with 5 New Bills

President Edgar Lungu of Zambia at the official opening of the 15th session of the council of Ministers of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) meeting in Lusaka announced that his government is working on 5 new intellectual property bills. In a statement read on his behalf by Vice President Inonge Wina at the ARIPO meeting last month, President Lungu implored Africa to invest in intellectual property systems for the protection of innovations of the continent's indigenous people. Vice President Wina in his speach mentioned that at the national level, his Government had taken various steps to strengthen intellectual property systems through the review of the legal

Libyan Trade Mark Office Sets December 31st Deadline For Late Renewal of Trade Marks.

Rouse Africa has become aware of an informal, verbal notice that appears to have been released by the Libyan Trade Marks Office (LTMO) relating to late renewal applications. According to reports, the LTMO has set a deadline of 31 December 2015 for trade mark proprietors or applicants to file renewal applications in respect of trade mark registrations or pending applications that have lapsed, irrespective of the date of such lapse. It will reportedly also be necessary for applicants for trade marks that have been published to pay the outstanding registration fees before the deadline so that the outstanding registration certificates can be issued. If this is not done, all lapsed trade marks wi

Protection of Trade Marks and Service Marks through OAPI

The African Intellectual Property Organization (Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle – OAPI) was formed in terms of the Bangui Agreement which came into effect on 2 March 1977 and revised on 24 February 1999. OAPI’s Bangui Agreement unlike ARIPO Banjul Protocol provides for some aspects of substantive trademark law. Annex III of the Bangui Agreement provides for substantive and procedural aspects of trademark law, the first part being trademarks and service marks. Protection is provided for trademarks and service marks upon registration and this is for a term of 10 years after which it can be renewed upon payment of the prescribed fee. Such protection extends beyond the good

WTO Extends Drug Patent Exemptions for Least Developed Countries

On 6 November 2015 the World Trade Organisation (WTO) TRIPS Council agreed to extend a waiver already in place in favour of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) which exempts them from having to implement provisions of the TRIPS Agreement which require the protection of pharmaceutical patents. With the previously agreed upon deadline of 1 January 2016 fast approaching, the extension gives LDC’s a further 17 years before they need to fully comply with provisions in TRIPS dealing with pharmaceutical patents. This extends the deadline to 2033, but the agreement also leaves room for further extensions to be made in the future. Granting the extension is seen as being in line with both the Doha Declar

A Brief Look at OAPI and the Madrid System.

OAPI acceded to the Madrid Protocol for the International Registration of Marks in December 2014 and the Protocol entered into force on 5 March 2015. This provides brand owners in French West Africa with potentially faster and cheaper access to international brand protection. The Madrid System provides for brand owners to potentially protect their products through one international application covering about 100 countries. The protection of intellectual property rights in most African French speaking countries is obtained via OAPI and comprises: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, the Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Mal

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