Inventa International - Africa
The African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) encompasses two major regional protocols: the Banjul Protocol for the protection of trademarks and the Harare Protocol for the protection of designs and patents.
Signatories to the Banjul Protocol are Botswana, Eswatini, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Signatories to the Harare Protocol are Botswana, Eswatini, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Applications for registration before ARIPO can be made on paper, by email or via the online platform.
The online platform enables applicants to:
- pay fees;
- file applications and additional documents; and
- receive notifications from ARIPO or member states.
The platform therefore serves as an example for all countries that have not yet effectively digitised the registration process. However, several improvements still need be made, including addressing the issues of increased filings and payment receipts.
Fortunately, ARIPO regularly consults its users at annual meetings to discuss various topics, including the development of its processes.
On 13 and 14 May, the organisation held the 10th session of the Working Group on the Improvement of Protocols Relating to Industrial Property. Several proposals from member states and users of the regional route were discussed, including:
- establishing deadlines for responding to notifications from ARIPO that are omitted or not directly explained by the protocols and respective regulations; and
- amending various requirements to streamline administrative procedures.
The ARIPO secretariat has also undertaken to issue payment receipts for publication and concession fees.
These changes and improvements to the online platform are now awaiting verification.
The working group session has demonstrated the willingness and enthusiasm of the working members of ARIPO to innovate and provide a better experience for their users, as well to ensure the good procedural management of applicants’ intellectual assets.
Given ARIPO’s success, it is unsurprising that in recent years other member states have adhered to the protocols and are predicted to follow suit.