African storms: controversy delays new dawn of IP protection

By Tim Lince

The recent accession of 17 African countries to the Madrid Protocol has proved unexpectedly contentious and cast doubt on the enforceability of some international marks. We speak with the figures involved in the dispute and consider how brand owners can best protect their marks in the continent

The prospect of joining the Madrid Protocol is often met with a degree of resistance from local trademark practitioners, concerned about the potential impact on filing instructions; but seldom do they end up fearing for their very livelihoods. Yet this is exactly the scenario playing out in Africa, where an acrimonious dispute over the African Intellectual Property Organisation’s (OAPI) recent accession has already cost one lawyer his job and could ultimately compromise the protection of brands across the region.

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Issue 73