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Africa: Draft new IP Law in Mauritius

The Mauritian authorities recently published a draft new IP law, the Industrial Property Bill 2016, and the deadline for comments expired on January 31 2017. Mauritius has followed the example of other African countries by consolidating all its IP in one statute, something that obviously makes the law easily accessible.

The Bill makes provision for three bodies, a registry (Industrial Property Office of Mauritius), an advisory body (Intellectual Property Council), and a hearings tribunal (Industrial Property Tribunal). The Bill is well set out and there are separate chapters for the various rights covered. These are:

Patents: there is nothing ground-breaking here with an absolute novelty requirement, substantive examination, an opposition procedure, a 20-year term, invalidation, specific PCT provisions, and extensive compulsory licensing provisions.

Utility models: there is an absolute novelty requirement, substantive examination, a six-year term with the option of two two-year extensions, and the option to convert to a patent and vice versa.

Lay-out designs: in order to be registrable the design must be original and not commercially exploited for more than two years. There is substantive examination, a 10-year term, an invalidation procedure, and compulsory licensing provisions.

New plant varieties: the requirements for registration are that the variety must be new, distinct, uniform and stable. There's a 12-month priority right from applications filed in UPOV member states, formal examination (with the Office being entitled to do substantive examination and enter into examination arrangements with other authorities), a 25-year term, detailed provisions regarding denomination, and an invalidation procedure.

Industrial designs: the novelty requirement is absolute and there is an exclusion for "features that are solely dictated by technical or functional considerations". There is substantive examination, a five-year registration term with three further five-year renewal periods, an invalidation procedure, and provisions dealing with international designs under the Hague Agreement

Trade marks: the Bill speaks of a "visually perceptive sign or combination of signs", and it covers colours and shapes. There is substantive examination that includes prior rights, protection for well-known marks, an opposition procedure, a 10-year registration term renewable indefinitely, and a three-year non-use term. There are extensive provisions regarding the Madrid Protocol, despite the fact that the country has not yet signed the Protocol.

Trade names and geographical indications are also covered, and there is a miscellaneous chapter that covers, inter alia, IP-related crimes.

All in all a fairly impressive effort! But the Madrid Protocol issue must clearly be sorted out before this becomes law.

Wayne Meiring

Spoor & Fisher Jersey
Africa House, Castle Street
St Helier, Jersey JE4 9TW
Channel Islands
Tel: +44 1534 838000
Fax: +44 1534 838001


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