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Africa: Mozambique joins ARIPO trademark system

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Trademark Registration Concept

In an important development, Mozambique has joined the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation’s (ARIPO) registration system for trademarks. It has been a member of the system for patents for some time.

ARIPO is a regional IP registration system that applies in what are mainly English-speaking African countries. The trademark component of the ARIPO system is regulated by a document known as the Banjul Protocol. On May 15 2020 Mozambique announced that it had acceded to that document with effect from August 15 2020.  

The effect of this is that it will in future be possible to designate any or all of the following countries in an ARIPO trademark application: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sāo Tomé e Principe, Uganda, Tanzania (mainland) and Zimbabwe.

A few points are worth making:

· There have been doubts as to whether ARIPO trademark registrations are in fact valid in certain member countries. These doubts stem from the fact that some of the member countries, particularly so-called “British law countries”, have not specifically incorporated the Banjul Protocol into their national laws. No such doubts arise with Mozambique – not only is it not a British law country, but the legislation, the Mozambique Industrial Property Code of 2016, makes specific provision for what are referred to as  “regional registrations.”

· In Mozambique, trademark owners are required to file a Declaration of Intent to Use (DIU) every five years. The code says that these provisions will apply mutatis mutandis to regional registrations. Therefore companies that obtain trademark registration in Mozambique through the ARIPO system will need to file DIUs. It seems that the five-year term will run from the date on which ARIPO notifies the Mozambique Registry of having received an application designating Mozambique.

· Despite the fact that in Mozambique national trademark applications must be filed in Portuguese this appears not to be the case with ARIPO registrations, which can seemingly be filed in English.

Jennifer Colantoni

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