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mean­ing that it must al­ways be pro­tected in the coun­tries busi­nesses wish to pen­e­trate. Pro­tec­tion of a trade­mark right will re­quire the reg­is­tra­tion in the coun­try’s na­tional reg­istry in ac­cor­dance with its trade­mark law. How­ever, a blan­ket trade­mark pro­tec­tion in sev­eral coun­tries is pro­vided for un­der the Or­gan­i­sa­tion Africaine de la Pro­pri­etè (OAPI) and African Re­gional In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Aripo). Th­ese re­gional bod­ies ben­e­fit one’s trade­mark by al­low­ing reg­is­tra­tion un­der th­ese bod­ies to pro­tect the trade­mark in all or most des­ig­nated mem­bers of OAPI and Aripo.

OAPI pro­vides pro­tec­tion in 17 French-speak­ing mem­ber coun­tries in­clud­ing Benin, Burk­ina Faso, Guinea, Guinea Bis­sau, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Cen­tral African Repub­lic, Mali, Chad, Mau­ri­ta­nia, Congo, Niger, Equa­to­rial Guinea, Sene­gal, Gabon, Co­moro Is­lands and Togo.

Reg­is­ter­ing a trade­mark in one mem­ber state of OAPI pro­vides pro­tec­tion in all mem­ber states of OAPI, un­like Aripo, which pro­vides that busi­nesses must des­ig­nate the Aripo mem­ber states they in­tend to pro­tect their in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights in. Aripo con­sists of 18 coun­tries — Botswana, Malawi, Uganda, Gam­bia, Mozam­bique, Swazi­land, Tan­za­nia, Ghana, Namibia, Zam­bia, Rwanda, Zim­babwe, Le­sotho, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Liberia, So­ma­lia and Su­dan.

Trade­mark pro­tec­tion may also pro­vide a blan­ket pro­tec­tion in sev­eral mem­ber states of the Madrid Union as mem­bers of the Madrid Union are sig­na­to­ries to the Madrid Agree­ment and/or Madrid Pro­to­col. There are 16 African coun­tries, the Euro­pean Union, US, In­dia, Australia, Turkey, Iran, Ja­pan and China in the Madrid Union. The African coun­tries in­clude Sao Tome and Principe, Morocco, North Su­dan, Al­ge­ria, Kenya, Mozam­bique, Le­sotho, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Swazi­land, Egypt, Zam­bia, Namibia, Botswana, Mada­gas­car and Ghana.

Pro­tec­tion un­der the Madrid Union gives com­pa­nies the ben­e­fit of hav­ing a cen­tralised sin­gle fil­ing route reg­is­tra­tion in all or most of the des­ig­nated mem­ber states.

Patents, like trade­marks, are ter­ri­to­rial rights which re­quire that reg­is­tra­tion is done in the coun­try a busi­ness wishes to pen­e­trate, in ac­cor­dance with the law of that coun­try or re­gion. In­ter­na­tional pro­tec­tion of a patent is ad­min­is­tered un­der the Patent Co­op­er­a­tion Treaty and there are 148 coun­tries which are mem­bers of the treaty. African coun­try mem­bers in­clude An­gola, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Mali, Uganda, SA, Zam­bia, Zim­babwe, Benin, Botswana, Cen­tral African Repub­lic, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Sene­gal, Sao Tome and Principe, Chad, Togo and Tan­za­nia, among oth­ers. Pro­tec­tion un­der the treaty pro­vides a sin­gle “in­ter­na­tional” patent ap­pli­ca­tion which cov­ers all or most coun­tries des­ig­nated in the ap­pli­ca­tion.

When it comes to industrial de­signs, th­ese are also ter­ri­to­rial rights which are pro­tected by reg­is­ter­ing it in ac­cor­dance with the law of the coun­try in­tended to pen­e­trate. How­ever, in­ter­na­tional pro­tec­tion for an industrial de­sign is given un­der the Hague Agree­ment.

The Hague Agree­ment con­sists of 61 mem­ber states which in­clude the fol­low­ing African coun­tries: Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sene­gal, Tu­nisia, Benin, Botswana and Côte d’Ivoire.

Busi­nesses are able to des­ig­nate pro­tec­tion of their trade­marks in all mem­ber states or most mem­ber states of the Hague Agree­ment.

Copy­right, be­ing a right awarded to au­thors of film, books, mu­sic and com­puter pro­grammes among other lit­er­ary works, is an au­to­matic right given to the ex­pres­sion of an idea, thereby mak­ing it an au­to­matic right, mean­ing it is not nec­es­sary to reg­is­ter the right to get pro­tec­tion. In ad­di­tion, Ar­ti­cle 5 of the Berne Con­ven­tion af­fords na­tional statu­tory copy­right pro­tec­tion to for­eign­ers domi­ciled in or na­tion­als of mem­ber states.

How­ever, if busi­nesses in­tend to reg­is­ter their copy­right, they will be re­quired to reg­is­ter that right with the na­tional reg­istry of the coun­try they in­tend to pen­e­trate.

The im­por­tance of busi­nesses pro­tect­ing their IP, in sin­gle or mul­ti­ple ju­ris­dic­tions, should never be un­der­es­ti­mated when look­ing to ex­pand into African mar­kets and should al­ways be a pri­or­ity con­sid­er­a­tion in any merger and ac­qui­si­tion deal.

In some mar­kets it is dif­fi­cult to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion on the laws that gov­ern IP or how IP laws work


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