New ARIPO Member: Republic of The Gambia – Intellectual Property

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Gambia: The newest member of ARIPO: The Republic of The Gambia

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The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (“ARIPO“) is one of the profitable regional systems in Africa which allows a trademark owner to file a single trademark application in different classes, designating various territories. The other regional trademark system is the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) which covers the following territories in West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

As of August 3, 2021, The Gambia will become the most recent member of the Banjul Protocol on Trademarks under which The Gambia can now be designated under ARIPO trademark applications. The other states that are currently members of the Banjul Protocol are: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Tanzania (mainland), Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Despite The Gambia’s accession to the Banjul Protocol, the Gambia’s Industrial Property Law has not been amended to provide for the recognition and enforcement of ARIPO trademark registrations. This means that any designation of The Gambia under an ARIPO application will have no effect in The Gambia at this stage. The same is true for the following other Member States which have not yet domesticated their national legislation to recognize ARIPO trademark registrations: eSwatini, Lesotho, Liberia, Tanzania and Uganda.

If trademark owners are looking for a cost effective trademark filing option in Africa to cover a few territories, we recommend that customers consider filing an ARIPO application designating the following countries only: Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe , and Zimbabwe, as these are the only member countries that have made legal provisions for the recognition and enforcement of ARIPO registrations at the national level.

If other Member States (eSwatini, Gambia, Lesotho, Liberia, Tanzania and Uganda) are of interest and until these Member States recognize ARIPO registrations under their local laws, we recommend that clients instead protect their national trademarks by filing in those territories to ensure that their trademarks will be considered valid and enforceable. For all the remaining territories in Africa likely to be of interest to customers, it is necessary to file national trademark applications by territory in order to ensure full protection.

Reviewed by Manisha Bugwandeen-Doorasamy, executive of the IP department of ENSafrica.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought on your particular situation.

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