Thursday, August 18, 2011

Trade mark proprietors take note!
Zimbabwe has enacted new trade mark legislation (on 10 September 2010) which gives proper recognition to ARIPO trade mark registrations in Zimbabwe.
The African Regional Industrial Property Organization (ARIPO) was founded in 1976 and in 1993 the Administrative Counsel of ARIPO adopted the Banjul Protocol on Trade Marks which provides for the filing of a single trade mark application at the ARIPO office (Harare) which will cover any member state(s) designated by the applicant.  At this stage, the only ARIPO members to have ratified the Banjul Protocol are Botswana, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.  These countries are all considered to be common law countries, which means, amongst other things, international agreements will only have force and effect once the relevant country enacts local legislation which incorporates the international agreement into local law.
Until recently, only Botswana and Namibia enacted local legislation to give effect to ARIPO registrations.  Even though the Trade Marks offices in the other Banjul-signatories have been accepting ARIPO trade mark applications, the enforcement of granted ARIPO registrations may very well be a problem, as said, in those countries that have not yet enacted the Banjul-provisions.  Zimbabwe has now (on 10 September 2010) enacted local legislation which gives effect to ARIPO registrations.  Therefore, should a trader wish to obtain registered protection for his mark(s) in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe, he can do so by filing a single ARIPO application which designates these three territories.  Not only could this strategy (as opposed to filing individual applications in each of the three mentioned countries) save the trader a considerable amount of money, but it also centralises and eases the burden of management and maintenance of registered rights in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.