LESOTHO IP GUIDESouthern Africa | ARIPO Member

Intellectual Property Lesotho
The Kingdom of Lesotho, formerly a British protectorate known as Basotholand, became an independent nation in 1966 and is now a constitutional monarchy. Lesotho is a land-locked country located in Southern Africa and completely surrounded by South Africa.

Area: 30 355 km2

Population: 2,203,821 million

Capital: Maseru

Currency: Maloti

GDP: $ 7.287 billion (2017)

Trade Marks

Lesotho is a member of the Paris Convention, the ARIPO (Banjul Protocol), the Madrid Agreement and Protocol, and the WTO/TRIPS.

The Order provides for the registration of marks in respect of goods and services, and for collective marks.

Since Lesotho is a member of the Paris Convention, it is possible to claim priority on the basis of an earlier application in a convention country. Lesotho has also acceded to the Banjul Protocol of ARIPO, and to the Madrid Agreement and Madrid Protocol of WIPO. However, these treaties have not yet been implemented in the national trade mark laws of Lesotho, so that it is not clear whether valid trade mark protection can be obtained in Lesotho via an ARIPO application or a Madrid application designating Lesotho.

Patents

Lesotho is a member of the Paris Convention, ARIPO (Harare Protocol), the PCT and the WTO/TRIPS.

Patent protection is available via a national filing or an ARIPO application designating Lesotho. Lesotho has implemented the Harare Protocol (which regulates patent and design filings in ARIPO) in its national laws, thereby giving valid patent protection to applicants seeking to obtain a patent via an ARIPO application.

The Industrial Property Amendment Act, 1997 amended the principal legislation by giving effect to PCT applications in Lesotho, but Regulations to implement the PCT provisions have not yet been promulgated. However, the existing legislation does contain a provision which states that any international treaties in respect of which Lesotho is a signatory shall apply in Lesotho and, in the event of a conflict between the national law and the international treaty, the provisions of the international treaty will apply. This means that international PCT applications, in which Lesotho is designated, may form the basis of national phase applications in Lesotho. Foreign applicants must be represented by an agent.

Designs

Lesotho is a member of the Paris Convention, ARIPO (Harare Protocol) and the WTO/TRIPS.

Design protection is available by way of a national filing or via an ARIPO application designating Lesotho. Lesotho has implemented the Harare Protocol (which regulates patent and design filings in ARIPO) in its national laws, thereby giving valid design protection to applicants seeking to obtain a design registration via ARIPO.

Copyright

Lesotho is a member of the Berne Convention, the Rome Convention and the WTO/TRIPS.

The law confers copyright protection on authors of original literary, artistic and scientific works. Such works include:

  • books, pamphlets, theses, dissertations and other writings
  • lectures, addresses, sermons and other oral works
  • dramatic and dramatico-musical works
  • musical works, vocal or instrumental
  • choreographic works, pantomimes
  • cinematographic and audiovisual works
  • works of drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, engravings, tapestry
  • photographic works
  • works of applied art
  • illustrations, maps, plans, three-dimensional works relative to geography, topography, architecture, technology or science.

Protection is also given to derivative works, including:

  • translations, adaptations, arrangements, transformations of literary, artistic or scientific works
  • collections of literary, artistic or scientific works
  • works inspired by expressions of folklore.

Plant Breeders' Rights

Currently, no legislative provision for plant breeders’ rights or other sui generis protection for plants is available in Lesotho.

Company Law

There are several forms of companies commonly used by foreign investors:

  • Private or public limited liability companies.
  • Single shareholding companies.
  • Non-profit companies.
  • External companies (being branches of foreign companies).

Private limited liability company is the most common entity. The new Companies Act allows a private limited liability company to be registered with only 1 shareholder (with a maximum of fifty shareholders).

Competition Law

Lesotho currently has no national competition law or policy in place. However, in certain instances specific sector / industry legislation makes provision for competition related aspects.

Consumer Protection

Currently Lesotho does not have any promulgated consumer protection laws. However, Lesotho may have some specific statutes which contain provisions that directly or indirectly relate to consumer protection under certain circumstances.

Data Protection

Currently Lesotho does not have any promulgated data protection laws. However, Lesotho’s constitution recognises a right to privacy. Some specific statutes may also contain provisions that directly or indirectly relate to data protection.

Dispute Resolution

The judicial system consists of the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the subordinate courts. Subordinate courts include resident magistrate’s courts and chiefs administer customary and tribal laws. There is no trial by the jury. Military courts have jurisdiction only over military cases and their decisions are final.

Employment Law

Governing legislation

  • Labour Code. Order No 24 of 1992
  • Labour Code (Amendment) Act, No 9 of 1997
  • Labour Code (Amendment) Act, No 3 of 2000
  • Labour Code (Amendment) Act, No 5 of 2006

Particulars of employment

A contract of employment may be either oral or in writing, express or implied.

Exchange Control

Lesotho is part of the Rand Common Monetary Area. Exchange controls apply and are subject to the provisions of the Exchange Control Order and Exchange Control Regulations administered by the Central Bank of Lesotho, which functions in conjunction with the South African Reserve Bank.

The commercial banks in Lesotho are appointed as authorised dealers and foreign exchange is subject to certain limits. Lesotho is also a member of the Preferential Trade Area (PTA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the British Commonwealth, the United Nations (UN) and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

Tax Law

Income tax is regulated by the Income Tax Act of 1993, together with regulations promulgated under the Act.

Business in Africa

Read the latest Africa Advisory Insights Newsletter.

Click Here

Related Articles