On September 10, 2018, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) launched a Regional Intellectual Property (IP) database at its headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe. The Regional IP database, which is at the implementation stage, contains information on the filings for registration of patents, designs, and trademarks carried out by a majority of ARIPO’s member states. It also contains information on national filings carried out within the member states.
There are currently 19 states that are party to the Lusaka Agreement and are therefore members of ARIPO. The Lusaka Agreement is an agreement for the creation of the African regional intellectual property organization for the study and promotion of and co‐operation in intellectual property matters in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and other appropriate organizations. The 19 member states are: Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The Regional IP database, however, covers only IP filings with ARIPO and filings done nationally by a majority of the member states. The 13 member states whose filings are available on the Regional IP database are: Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The development of the Regional IP database, which is free and easy to access for searches by IP agents and anyone who wishes to obtain information or register a patent, industrial design, or trademark in the 13 member states, is supported and administered by WIPO, which provided the software for the Regional IP database and also assisted with extraction of published IP data from the Industrial Property Automation System (IPAS) in those 13 member states.
It is noteworthy that the aim of ARIPO is for subsequent filings carried out in the 13 member states that utilize the IPAS portal, to be uploaded automatically on the Regional IP database.
The Regional IP database is designed to efficiently serve several purposes. Those include: the provision of published IP data online; the encouragement of regional trade, IP scientific research, IP rights protection and enforcement in the ARIPO region; and the sustainable development of IP.
Consequently, the creation of the Regional IP database is expected to contribute significantly to improve the use and uptake of IP in the ARIPO region by the 19 member states, by increasing the number of local and regional IP applications over time.
Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest. Law & Practice updates are published without comment from INTA except where it has taken an official position.
© 2018 International Trademark Association