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Rwanda Makes Changes to its IP Laws

On 20th April the Rwandan government released a special gazette notice setting out recently promulgated laws. The 92 page document touches on changes to various IP laws with a majority of these changes coming into force on between March and April 2016. The gazette notice found here is drafted in 3 languages Kinyarwanda, French and English.

This post highlights the changes we noted in our first review of the gazette notice.

Seeds and Plant varieties law promulgated.

After a sustained campaign by ARIPO and the Rwandan development board, the Rwandan government signed into law the Seeds and Plants varieties Act adding to the bundle of IP rights protected in Rwanda. Rights holders will now be able to seek protection for plant varieties breeder protection and seed multipliers among other rights. The new Act can be found on page 18 of the gazette notice.

Reduced official fees.

The government has released a new schedule of official fees for registration and related actions pertaining to the prosecution and renewal of trade marks, utility models, industrial designs, geographical indications and Patents. The new schedule of costs shows a marked reduction in official fee's and can be found on page 74 -77.

Revised time frames for unilateral and compulsory licences.

Time frames for Patent licences has also been revised. Unilateral licences are now four years, while compulsory licences are now limited to 12 months although, this is renewable when considered necessary. Details of this can be found on page 81 of the gazette notice .

Revised opposition time lines and requirements.

The time frame by which one can oppose an application for registration of a trade mark or geographical indication is now 60 days from the date of publication. There is also the added a requirement for the opposing party to provide detailed instructions for the opposition as well as material evidence of the grounds for opposition and a power of attorney.

Upon receipt of the opposition, the applicant now has fourteen (14) days to submit a written response to the opposition. Details of these new requirements can be found on pages 81 to 82 of the Gazette.

Limitation of registered intellectual property rights.

The Trade Mark Act has been revised to give the minister the authority to strike off from the trade mark register, marks he believes are extinct, were acquired in bad faith or in contravention of the law (pg 82-83).

New format for Power of Attorney.

The Trade Mark Act will now require the power of attorney to be in the form set out on page 87 further, the power of attorney must be notarized.

For more information kindly contact Carole Theuri

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