During the Administrative Council meeting, the following material amendments to the Harare Protocol were tabled and approved:
- Filing of third-party observations: Section 2quater has been included in the protocol to provide for the filing of observations by third parties regarding patentability of inventions to which the ARIPO application relates. Previously, the Harare Protocol was silent in respect of this aspect and ARIPO accepted third party observations on an informal basis. This new Rule will enable 3rd parties to submit their observations after publication of the application.
- Novelty and industrial applicability requirements for utility models: Section 3ter has been expanded to include novelty and industrial applicable requirements. The newly adopted novelty requirement is limited to local novelty within the ARIPO member states. The utilization of the utility model now extends to any kind of industry including agriculture.
- Response to rejection notices by designated states: The Protocol and implementing regulations were amended to provide Applicants with an opportunity to respond to rejection notices issued by member states. Previously, the Protocol did not make any provision for responding to rejection notices issued by member states presenting difficulties for applicants. These amendments which allow a three month period for applicants to make submissions and / or amendments in response to a notice of rejection or conversion of the ARIPO application to a national application, represent a significant improvement to patent and design practice under the Harare Protocol.
- Extended duration of ARIPO registered designs: Section 4(6) of the protocol was amended to extend the duration of ARIPO registered design from 10 to 15 years. Previously, there were conflicting periods between the duration for ARIPO designs set out in the protocol (10 years) and the duration set out in the national laws of the member states. The amended provisions state that whilst the duration of an ARIPO design is 15 years this will not apply in countries which have a shorter duration in their national laws.
- Extension of time limits: The Harare protocol had provided the Director General with powers to extend time limits under wide -ranging circumstances. Rule 15ter has been amended to include pandemics, natural disaster, war and civil disorder as circumstances under which the Director General can extend time limits under the Protocol.
- Payment of surcharges: Rule 18(1) has been corrected to clarify that a request for substantive examination must be accompanied by the examination fees and surcharges for excess claims and additional pages. In addition, amended Rule 18(1)(a) specifies that the base date for calculating the deadline to file the request for examination is the earliest priority date marking a significant change from the previous provisions.
- Voluntary amendments after issuance of examination report. Rule 18 (3) has been amended to outline the procedure and requirements for filing amendments after issuance of the examination report. Previously, it was not clear how voluntary amendments after examination report were processed. Amendments without basis and amended claims which relate to unsearched subject matter will not be accepted.
The Notification of Amendments to the Harare Protocol can be downloaded from ARIPO’ s website.