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Africa: Gambia and Algeria join Madrid Protocol

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has announced that the Republic of the Gambia has acceded to the Madrid Protocol on the international registration of trade marks. The notification says that the Madrid Protocol will enter into force in Gambia on December 18 2015. This makes Gambia the 21st African country or regional organisation to join the Madrid Protocol.

Unlike several African member countries, Gambia has passed legislation which gives effect to its obligations in terms of the Madrid Protocol. International registrations that designate Gambia should therefore be enforceable.

Trade mark owners should be aware, though, that the Gambian Registry's examination of applications is unlikely to be rigorous and that advertisement, for opposition purposes, will probably take longer than 18 months to occur after filing. This will mean that international registrations, which have not been the subject of proper scrutiny, could become valid by default.

Although avoiding proper examination and opposition may be seen as something of a bonus for the company that applies for international registration, it could, in fact, be problematic. That is because a third party threatened or in some way aggrieved by the international registration might apply for its cancellation on the basis that it was wrongly registered.

Algeria will be joining the Madrid Protocol with effect from October 31 2015. Algeria has for many years been a member of the older Madrid Agreement. The Agreement requires a trade mark owner to obtain a registration in its home country before it can apply for an international registration, rather than simply relying on a pending application in the home country. We understand that Algeria was the only Madrid Agreement country in the world not to have joined the Madrid Protocol. Therefore Algeria joining the Madrid Protocol allows for a merging of the two agreements, which means that in future there will be just one agreement dealing with the international registration of trade marks.

Wayne Meiring

Spoor & Fisher JerseyAfrica House, Castle StreetSt Helier, Jersey JE4 9TWChannel IslandsTel: +44 1534 838000Fax: +44 1534

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