Procedures for the ‘reservation’ of trademarks introduced

Southern Sudan was established as a separate state in July last year. Although it has not yet enacted trademark legislation, its Ministry of Justice recently issued written directives to officials at the Trademark Office setting out procedures for the reservation of marks.

Prior to Southern Sudan’s independence, the Trademark Law 1969 of Sudan was in force in Southern Sudan. Following independence, that is no longer the case. Marks previously registered in Sudan will no longer be in force in Southern Sudan and the new state will be issuing its own trademark law. In the meantime, written directives have been issued to provide for the reservation of trademarks.

The Ministry of Justice’s directives, which will remain in force until the enactment of Southern Sudan’s new Trademark Law, provide as follows:

  • A written application may be submitted to the registrar, with details, including representations, of the trademark in relation to which protection is sought.
  • To ascertain availability, the registrar will conduct a preliminary search of marks which are the subject of reservations under the new system.
  • If the mark has not been reserved, it will be reserved in the applicant’s name, and will not be available for use by any other party.

Despite problems in the region, Southern Sudan is oil rich, and historically a region with good language skills (Arabic, English and French). Therefore, there is potential for development.

Trademark owners with any interest in the area, and particularly those whose marks have previously been registered in Sudan, should be taking steps to reserve their marks in Southern Sudan without delay. It seems that the reservation system is intended to work on a first-come, first-served basis and this, combined with the absence of fees, is likely to make it very attractive to pirates.

Edward Hardcastle and Mona Saleh, Rouse & Co International, Middle East & Africa

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