Patent Law of Ethiopia
* Proclamation No 123/1995 on Inventions, Minor Inventions and
* Regulations No 12/1997 on Inventions, Minor Inventions and Industrial Designs.
Language: Amharic (official language)
Ethiopia is a member of the following international agreements:
* Nairobi Treaty on Olympic Symbol (since 1982)
* WIPO Convention (since 1998)
* Ethiopia is not a member of the Paris Convention, nor of the PCT or the WTO/TRIPS. However, priority is afforded on the basis of a first-filed application in another country.
Filing requirements for Ethiopian Patent application:
* Full particulars of the applicant/inventor
* Power of attorney (notarised and legalised)
* Assignment of invention (if applicable; legalised)
* Specification (including claims, drawings and abstract), in English and Amharic.
* Certified copy of the priority document (if applicable; legalised).
Ethiopia Patent Registration Procedure
Patent applications are filed with the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO).
A formal examination as well as a substantive examination are conducted. The substantive examination follows once all formal requirements have been complied with. Substantive examination can be avoided by a foreign applicant, by filing a copy of a patent granted on a corresponding application in another country to obtain a so-called patent of introduction (or importation).
Upon grant, a reference to the grant is published in the Official Gazette.
Patent is registered if not obstacles found.
The initial term of a patent is 15 years calculated from the filing date, with an option to renew the patent for a further period of five years subject to proof of adequate working in Ethiopia.
An annual fee is payable as from the first anniversary of filing. A grace period of six months is allowed for the late payment of the annual fee. If the fee is not paid within the grace period, the patent lapses.
Although Ethiopia is not a member of the Paris Convention, the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office recognises the right to priority, and affords an application a priority claim on the basis of the first-filed foreign application, provided the Ethiopian application is filed within 12 months of the first filing.
Patentable subject matter
An invention is patentable if it is new, involves an inventive step and is industrially applicable.
The following inventions are not patentable:
* Inventions that are contrary to public order or morality.
* Plant or animal varieties or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals.
* Schemes, rules or methods for playing games or performing commercial and industrial activities and computer programs.
* Discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods.
* Methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy, as well as diagnostic methods practised on the human or animal body.
Ethiopia Trademark Law
Legal basis is the "Trade Mark Registration and Protection Proclamation of July 2006 in force since December 24, 2012. Ethiopia is not a member of the Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol. Trademark protection is obtained by registration. It can also be acquired by sufficient public recognition.
Nice classification, 10th edition. Multiple-class applications are possible. An application can include goods in any number of classes, but with additional charges for each additional class.
* A Power of Attorney (POA) authenticated by an Ethiopian Consulate is necessary.
* Certified copy of Home registration with legalization by an Ethiopian consulate abroad OR a business license (if available) detailing the goods and/or services to be covered by the application, with verified English translation, legalized by an Ethiopian Consul.
Ethiopia Trademark Registration Procedure
* The application is filed at the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office.
* The application process includes a formal examination, an examination of distinctiveness and a search for prior trademarks. Signs not deemed distinctive in the examination can be registered if distinctiveness has been acquired by use.
* The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) examines the application as to form and substance. If the application is found to be acceptable, a notice inviting opposition is published in two newspapers in English and Amharic.
* The trademark will be registered unless opposition is submitted to the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office within the opposition period.
National Opposition Period
The opposition period is 60 days from the publication date of the notice of invitation for opposition.
The approximate time frame for completing the registration process of a trademark in Ethiopia is about 6 to 8 months from the filing date.
A trademark registration is valid for 7 years from the date of submission of the application for registration. The registration is renewable for consecutive periods of 7 years.
Opposition Process in Ethiopia
Any person who objects to the registration of a trade mark may file a notice of opposition stating the grounds, together with supporting documentation, at the EIPO. The EIPO sends a copy to the applicant, who may then file a counter-statement within the prescribed period. If the trade mark applicant fails to file a counter-statement, the application shall be deemed to be abandoned. If a counter-statement is filed, the EIPO examines the merits of the case and makes a decision. It is possible to appeal the EIPO’s decision to the court.
Grounds of opposition
To succeed with an opposition, the opponent must show that the application does not comply with the provisions of the Proclamation.
The following marks are not registrable:
* a mark which is incapable of distinguishing the goods or services of a person
* a mark which consists of a sound or smell
* a mark which is contrary to public order or morality
* a mark that consists exclusively of the surname of the applicant, or the full name of another individual without his consent
* a mark which consists exclusively of signs designating the quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin of goods or services, or time of production or other characteristics of the goods or services
* a mark which consists exclusively of a sign which has become customary in the current language or economic and business activities in relation to the goods or services for which registration is applied
* a mark identical to, or an imitation of, the armorial bearing, flag, emblem, name or official sign of any state, intergovernmental or international organisation
* a mark likely to mislead the public, eg as regards the origin of the goods or services
* a mark consisting exclusively of a shape resulting from the nature of the goods or necessary to obtain a technical result
*a mark which is identical with an earlier trade mark registration or application for the same goods or services or closely related goods or services, or if it so nearly resembles such a trade mark as to be likely to deceive or cause confusion
* a mark which is identical with or confusingly similar to, or contains a translation of, a trade mark which is well known or established by use in Ethiopia for identical or similar goods or services of another person
* a mark which is identical with or confusingly similar to, or constitutes a translation of, a trade mark which is well known and registered in Ethiopia for goods or services which are not identical or similar, where the use of the mark would indicate a connection between those goods or services and the interests of the trade mark owner are likely to be damaged by such use
* a mark which contains the characteristic title of another person’s protected literary or artistic rights, or another person’s right to a photograph or design, without that person’s consent.
Cancellation of a trade mark
The registration of a trade mark may be invalidated upon the written request of any interested person, or upon the initiative of the EIPO itself.
Grounds for cancellation
Any interested person may apply for the invalidation of a trade mark registration if such person can prove that the registration did not comply with the requirements of the law (see the section on Grounds of opposition above). A decision declaring the registration to be invalid is effective from the date of registration of the trade mark.
A trade mark may in law be cancelled on the ground that it has not been used in Ethiopia for a continuous period of at least three years. The Proclamation requires use within three years of registration, but this is not applied in practice, and as such, there are no use requirements enforced at present.
Note: The EIPO also administers a formalised cautionary notice system for purposes of notifying the public of the existence of the proprietary rights in respect of the trade mark.