The 6th session of the Working Group on the Improvement of the ARIPO Protocols relating to Industrial Property was held at the ARIPO headquarters in Harare Zimbabwe on 12 and 13 June 2017. The Working Group is comprised of IP practitioners and Registry officials from various ARIPO member and observer states. The Working Group discussed proposals to amend the Harare Protocol which regulates the filing and prosecution of patents and designs in ARIPO and also addressed some of the challenges in the operation of the Banjul Protocol which regulates Trade Mark matters in ARIPO. Adams & Adams was represented at this Working Group Session by partners Mariëtte du Plessis and Nthabisheng Phaswana.
The Harare Protocol has been amended several times over the past few years, however the Working Group proposed amendments including provisions allowing applicants for patents to request accelerated or delayed examination for patent applications. In addition, with effect from 1 January 2017 amendments to the Harare Protocol now require all applicants to file a request for substantive search and examination and pay the prescribed fees therefore. There has been confusion around the deadline for payment of the fees for search and examination but it has now been clarified that the deadline is 3 years from the date of filing at ARIPO.
The Banjul Protocol has been ratified by 10 of the 19 ARIPO member states and has only been domesticated in 3 of the member states, being Botswana, Liberia and Zimbabwe. Our firm made recommendations regarding ARIPO’s involvement in the domestication of the Banjul Protocol and harmonisation of national laws of member states. In addition, recommendations were also made to amend the Banjul Protocol to centralise ARIPO oppositions. Our recommendations were well received and we are optimistic that, if accepted, the changes will bring significant improvement to the ARIPO trade mark system.
Should the Working Group recommendations be accepted by the ARIPO Technical Committee they will be tabled for discussion / approval by the Administrative Council when it sits in December 2017.
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