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Zimbabwe: A Little Bit About Filing

Zimbabwe has become a popular destination for trade mark filings likely because it offers proprietors the chance to file national, regional and international trade mark applications through ARIPO and under the Madrid system.

The national application is one trade mark application for each class of goods or services through the Zimbabwe Intellectual Property Office (ZIPO). An application must be submitted on Form TM 5 together with the application fee and supporting documents. The application is then examined at ZIPO after which it will be advertised to the public for 2 months. During this time, any person may formally oppose the application. If there are no oppositions, the application will be registered.

In a regional application, the applicant is allowed to effectively file the same mark in multiple countries (as long as they are members of ARIPO) simultaneously. A regional application is made at the African Regional Intellectual Property Office, which, incidentally, is situated in Harare - Zimbabwe’s capital city.

To file an international application, the trade mark proprietor must first apply for trade mark registration at their domestic intellectual property office, designating the other countries in which they want their trademark to apply. The application is forwarded to WIPO for examination. After examination and if successful, WIPO in turn forwards the application to the intellectual property offices of the designated states for further examination. These offices make a decision as to whether to register the mark. The decision must be made within the time limit (12 or 18 months).

All three systems have their advantages and disadvantages. The particular choice of avenue to filing will ultimately depend on the individual needs of the proprietor and the urgency of the application.

For more information, please contact Sipho Mudau.

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