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ARIPO calls on users to try its improved system

"We have come a long way in many ways. We are now more mature, our system is now more efficient and coherent, but we are always looking to improve,” said ARIPO Director General Fernando dos Santos, who spoke to the INTA Daily News yesterday.

ARIPO will be celebrating its 40th anniversary this December and dos Santos said it has stuck to its founding principles. “The founders understood the importance of IP in economic and technological development and the objective is to collaborate with each other and harmonize the way we work. This is what we are doing today,” he said. “This 40th celebration is a moment to reflect on the past and our achievements, as our mandate has expanded to cover many IP rights.”

Dos Santos said ARIPO’s new online filing system has improved Office processes and experience for staff and users alike. “It is more reliable, faster and cost-effective. There is a discount for those who file online,” he noted. ARIPO recently unveiled a new two-tone blue logo, something that he said reflects the fresh, modern outlook of the organization.

ARIPO now has 10 contracting parties to the Banjul Protocol (Trademarks), but dos Santos said the organization is not resting on its laurels: “We still need more member states to accede to and domesticate the Protocol. Mozambique and Zambia are two members we are expecting to accede soon.”

Dos Santos acknowledged that progress is slow but said there is a solution: “Trademark administration is a major source of revenue for our members. Two years ago we introduced a fee structure system where members can make a request for their own fees in an ARIPO application designating them.” Unlike OAPI, however, ARIPO cannot join the Madrid System because of its setup. “We are not unitary in nature,” says dos Santos. “Some of our member states are party to the system, but I believe the system can co-exist well with the Banjul Protocol.”

Looking forward, dos Santos said ARIPO will continue to collaborate with international IP stakeholders and intends to conduct research in an effort to support its principles. “We are committed to helping members with their IP systems and to improve our Protocols. To help with this we are planning to tap into our academic connections to start research studies into IP in Africa,” he explained, mentioning that INTA, among other groups, has been “very supportive.” INTA’s “Building Africa With Brands” conference will take place in Cape Town, South Africa September 1-2, 2016. He concluded with a message to IP owners interested in the African markets: “Trust our system. It is working.”

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