Adams & Adams regularly hosts a meeting of partners from Associate Offices and Registrars from across the continent – a concept designed to maintain relationships, build capacity and share information about updates on intellectual property and corporate & commercial developments across the continent. The AFRICA IP NETWORK WEEK took place from 11 – 15 September 2017, and included events and functions such as the Patent Summit, IP Network Meeting, Network Cocktail Function, One-on-One Meetings Day and MonteCasino Getaway.


As part of its annual Africa IP Network Week, Adams & Adams co-hosted the inaugural Africa Patent Examination Summit with the European Patent Office (EPO) in Pretoria, South Africa, on 13 September 2017.

Few countries in Africa conduct any form of substantive patent examination at present, mainly due to a lack of capacities and resources. South Africa has a depository system and has begun training patent examiners as it intends to introduce substantive examination in the near future. Work-sharing and pooling of examination resources in the form of regional institutions such as the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI) is an effective way for addressing these common challenges. In addition, Morocco, and soon Tunisia, allow holders of EP patents to validate granted European patents in their jurisdictions via so-called validation agreements.

In contrast to other registration type systems available in African countries such as Ethiopia, the DRC and Swaziland, this allows for a proper delimitation of the granted scope of protection which is favourable to both the patent proprietors and third parties.

Registrars, officials and patent examiners from twenty African jurisdictions, as well as representatives from regional organisations such as the EPO, ARIPO and OAPI met to discuss the various approaches to patent examination available and to share experiences and best practices in this regard.

The Summit was followed by the 5th Annual Adams & Adams Network Meeting, a two-day seminar that brings together IP professionals and officials from across the continent to discuss topical IP issues in an African context.

Adams & Adams Partner and co-chair of the summit, Mr. Danie Dohmen, described the meeting as a platform for an “honest and open discussion between the Registrars, regional organisations and the EPO” in assessing the status of patent examination in Africa and prospects for future co-operation. Mr François-Régis Hannart, Principal Director for European and International Co-operation at the EPO, stated: “It is evident that the worldwide patent system is becoming more connected and integrated as a result of globalisation, and that Africa will play an important role in this system. This meeting offered a valuable platform for forging new partnerships in the region, both bilateral and multilateral, thereby strengthening the ties between Europe and Africa even further.”


Adams & Adams hosted its 5th annual IP network seminar, the largest of its kind on the continent, for partners and IP officials from across Africa. The meeting brought together close to 100 leading IP practitioners and administrators, representing 42 out of 54 jurisdictions on the continent, as well as regional and global organisations such as ARIPO, OAPI, EPO and WIPO.

The annual IP showpiece event was only briefly interrupted in 2014 over concerns of the threat posed by the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa. On the continued growth and success of the Meeting, Director General of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), Mr Fernando do Santos said, “ARIPO has attended this meeting for all five years. The quality of the discussions and topics at the Network Meeting has improved significantly, and it is good to see more and more registry and government officials joining the event.”

In her keynote address, Ms. Nicky Weimar, Senior Economist at Nedbank, delivered a valuable analysis of the current outlook and performance of Africa’s economies, highlighting challenges that the continent faces in pursuing growth – challenges such as legislative and political uncertainty. Meeting chair, and Partner at Adams & Adams, Mr Simon Brown, agreed that while legislative uncertainty hampered development, it was encouraging to note from discussions at the Africa Patent Summit, held the day before, a number of jurisdictions are actively addressing their IP laws in order to encourage efficiency in processing of applications, providing better enforcement mechanisms and encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship.

Breakaway sessions focussed on current IP matters such as the Madrid Protocol, performance of the Banjul Protocol, design litigation, franchising agreements and patent prosecution across Africa. Many Africa Network delegates highlighted the fact that the Meeting affords them a unique opportunity to address concerns and queries directly with Registrars and IP administrators, in an environment that encourages robust discussion.

The meeting also serves as the only platform in Africa for African IP practitioners to meet and engage on topics of mutual interest in the IP arena and provides them with access to the combined skills and knowledge of the partners and professionals at Adams & Adams as well as a large group of IP professionals who often face similar capacity challenges in their respective jurisdictions.