Commission on Intellectual Property Rights Country Case Study for Study 9

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In Africa, there are two Regional Organisations which deal in IPRs, these are the African Regional Industrial Property Organisation (ARIPO) and the African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI) in Harare and Yaoundi respectively.


African Regional Industrial Property Organisation (ARIPO) is an inter-governmental industrial property organisation created in 1976 at a Diplomatic Conference in Lusaka, Zambia. The Treaty creating ARIPO (known as the Lusaka Agreement) entered into force in 1978. The headquarters of ARIPO are in Harare, Zimbabwe.

At present, 15 States are members of ARIPO:
Botswana, Gambia, The Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Objectives of ARIPO

The objectives of the Organisation include:-

  1. the modernization, harmonization and development of the industrial property laws of its members;

  1. fostering the establishment of a close relationship between the member in matters relating to industrial property;

  1. establishment common services or organs for the co-ordination, harmonization and development of industrial property activities affecting its members;

  1. promoting and evolving a common view and approach to industrial property matters among the Member States;

  1. assisting its members in the acquisition and development of technology relating to industrial property.

Harmonization of industrial property laws among English-speaking African countries has been facilitated by the Committee for Patent matters and the Committee for Trademark matters established by the Conference on Industrial Property laws for English-speaking African in early 1970s. The Committee was assisted by the International Bureau of WIPO who were responsible for the preparation of the draft model laws for English-speaking African based on recommendations made by experts composed of Heads of Patent Offices from the industrial property offices of English-speaking countries.

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The primary objective of the African Regional Industrial Property Organisation is to promote the harmonization and development of the industrial property laws of the countries of the Regional (Article III (a) of the Agreement creating the Organisation, adopted in Lusaka on December, 9, 1976). The Lusaka Agreement entered into force on February 15, 1978. In carrying out this objective, the Organisation took into account the fact that majority of the countries concerned had “dependant patent system”: in other words, their patent laws did not provide for the original grant of a patent in the country but extended to their territories the effects of a patent granted in a foreign country (in most cases, the United Kingdom). Such grants were normally governed not by the law of the African country but by that of the foreign country. Accordingly, the Committee for Patent Matters and the Committee for Trademark and Industrial Design Matters, meeting in joint session adopted a Resolution which recommended that the Governments of English-speaking African States should introduce national independent patent system based upon the approved Model Law for English-speaking African Countries on Patents.
The Trademark Model Law was prepared subsequent to the Model Law for English-speaking African Countries on Patents, which was published in 1978. The proposals were made for the first time at the first session of the Committee for Trade Marks and Industrial Designed Matters Conference on Industrial Property Laws of English-speaking African, which was held in Nairobi (Kenya), in October, 1975. The Committee reached a consensus as to the direction which the harmonization and development of trademark legislation in English-speaking Africa should take.
Subsequently, at its second session, held in Lusaka (Zambia) in December 1976, the Committee of Trade Mark and Industrial Designs Matters examined the result of a questionnaire and an outline of model provisions on trade marks and gave guidance to the Interim Committee on model provisions on trademarks and the Interim Secretariat (WIPO and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on the preparation of the Model Law. The Council of ARIPO, at its second session, in Nairobi (Kenya), in December 1978, endorsed as the basis for harmonization of trademark legislation’s in the English speaking African countries and requested the Interim Secretariat to proceed with the publication.
On the basis of the Model Law for English-speaking Africa on patent and trademarks, a great number of English-speaking African countries have adopted independent legislations on patents or modified their legislation to correspond to model law. At its seventh session held in Banjul, the Gambia in November 1993, the Administrative Council consider amendment of the Harare Protocol with the view to incorporate the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PTC). Sudan and Malawi were the only members of ARIPO and PCT at that time.


In December 1982, in Harare, Zimbabwe, Council of ARIPO adopted the Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs (Known as the Harare Protocol).

The Protocol empowers the Office of ARIPO to grant patents and register industrial designs and to administer the granted patents and registered industrial designs, on behalf of the Contracting State (i.e. State which are party to the Protocol).
A Patent granted under the Harare Protocol has the same effect in the designated Contracting State as a national patent. The Protocol entered into force in 1984. Since that date the following countries are a party to the Protocol:-
Botswana, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Some Contracting States have already incorporated the Protocol into their national laws; for the other Contracting States, incorporation is under way.

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