Law & Practice

AFRICA: Recent Amendments to the Bangui Agreement

Published: March 9, 2022

Ibukunoluwa Adebara PUNUKA Attorneys & Solicitors Lagos, Nigeria INTA Bulletins Committee—Middle East and Africa Subcommittee


Janine Hollesen Werksmans IP Stellenbosch, South Africa INTA Bulletins Committee—Middle East and Africa Subcommittee

Amendments came into force on January 1, 2022 to the Bangui Agreement, which governs intellectual property (IP) within the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) member states. Adopted on March 2, 1977, this Agreement serves as the member states’ national law.

The recent amendments to the Bangui Agreement include the following notable amendments related to trademarks:

  • The definition of trademark has been revised to include sound marks, audiovisual marks, certification marks, and series of signs;
  • Multi-class applications can cut across classes for both goods and services;
  • The opposition period after examination has been reduced from a six-month to a three-month period, wherein an opposition may be filed. The appeal period against opposition decisions has been reduced from three to two months. If there is a grant of a mark’s registration, the mark would be republished to notify third parties of the registration without allowing for oppositions;
  • A third party can file a claim of ownership objection within the opposition period based on prior use of the mark. If successful, the registry will assign the trademark to the third party;
  • The enforceability of International Registrations designating OAPI through the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Madrid System for member states that have ratified OAPI’s accession to the Madrid Protocol has been recognized. Since not all OAPI states have ratified OAPI’s accession to the Madrid Protocol, a doubt hangs on the validity and enforceability of OAPI’s designations for such International Registrations; and
  • The schedule of official fees has been amended. Official filing fees are applicable for filing in only one class. Additional fees are payable for the second and any subsequent classes.

Other notable amendments include the following:

  • Customs authorities can detain suspected counterfeit products on grounds of a trademark registration. If the trademark owner does not provide proof of interim measures ordered by a competent court or an application to a competent court providing the requisite guarantees to compensate the holder of the goods—whether or not they are found not to be counterfeit—the goods should be released after 10 days for non-perishable goods and three days for perishables;
  • The protection of geographical indications is extended to agricultural, natural, and artisanal products; and
  • Prior to registration, applications for registration of industrial designs will be published for a three-month period to allow for third-party opposition.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, 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.

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