Last week Members of Swaziland’s Parliament met to discuss the way forward regarding the Trade marks (Amendment) Bill of 2015. This Bill seeks to bring, among other things, Swaziland’s national legislation in line with its international obligations under the Madrid Protocol as well as the Banjul Protocol (ARIPO). The current Trade Marks Act of 1981 does not recognise international registrations in terms of the Madrid system and Banjul Protocol – although Swaziland may be designated as a member country under both systems. In the absence of appropriate legislation which guides the Trade Mark Registrar as to the manner in which such registrations are to be dealt with, such registrations may be deemed invalid.
The meeting which took place last week appears to have come to a halt due to certain irregularities which the MPs noted in the Bill. According to them, some of the provisions of the Bill were not in line with those in the Trade Marks Act of 1981. The MPs argued that the assistance of the Attorney General was needed before the Bill could be brought to the Whole House. Since the Attorney General was not in attendance that day, a motion was moved with the effect that the Bill was withdrawn from the Committee of the Whole House, and the Minister is to first consult with the Attorney General before further steps can be taken.
It is disappointing that the Bill, which is a positive step towards rectifying several shortfalls in the current Act, has still not yet been passed into law (3 years after its preparation). Given the current position, it is unclear if or when this will take place. Should there be any developments in this regard, we will keep you informed. In the meantime, we recommend that trade mark owners seek protection of their trade marks on a national level in Swaziland (and not through the Madrid or ARIPO systems).