Patent Law OAPI
The African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) administers intellectual property rights for the majority of French speaking African countries. The most distinctive characteristic and advantage of OAPI is that a single trade mark registration is automatically effective in all its member-states, without the possibility of designating only some countries. The OAPI headquartered is in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The organization was created by Bangui Agreement of March 2, 1977. The Bangui Agreement was subsequently amended in 1999.
Organization that covers 17 members States in Central and West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.
* By a single filing, this system offers to the applicant the opportunity to obtain a total protection over the 17 OAPI members States.
In OAPI The patent may be issued for:
- a product
- a method with exception of "Method of Treatment" claims which cannot be protected under the OAPI law.
The application for registration of the patent in OAPI must contain :
- A detailed description of the object of the invention to enable the skilled person to reproduce said object; Claims ; Drawings; Descriptive abstract of the subject of the invention;
- Simple signed Power of Attorney (POA)
- Assignment, if apply
For OAPI PCT:
1. Copy of the published PCT application
2. Copy of description, claims, drawings (if any) and abstract
3. POA, Simple signed.
4. Assignment (if apply)
* POA documents can be filing late up to 3 months after the date of filing.
* If there is a priority claim, the certified priority document with the assignment of priority (if any) it can be file up to 6 months after the filing date.
French or English
Deadline for the PCT national phase entry:
30 months from the priority date.
Patent Registration Procedure in OAPI
The Organization grants, as the filing date, the date of receipt of the request. The Organization issues a deposit report.
The organization will then conduct a review and a research report. A formality examination is undertaken, and notification is received from OAPI regarding outstanding documents and other irregularities. The patent shall undergo examination to ensure unity of invention and patentability per se.
When it finds that all the conditions required for the grant of the patent are fulfilled and that the search report has been drawn up, it notifies the decision and issues the requested patent.
The patent is published after registration.
* Examination and publication fees are payable at the filing stage.
From the filing of the application until the grant of the patent, the procedure duration is between 12 and 18 months, approximately. However, it will depends on the object of the patent and backlogs of Registrar.
The patent expires at the end of the 20th year from the filing date of the application.
Annuities are payable each from the 2nd from the filing date or priority date. If the annuity is paid after the deadline, the applicant has a grace period of 6 months from the anniversary date to pay an additional tax.
Trademark Law in OAPI
The OAPI (or AIPO) states are a union of French speaking African countries.
The member states are treated as one state in trademark law. Apart from that there is no national trademark law in the member states. Therefore it is not possible to obtain national registrations in these countries.
Legal basis is the Treaty of Libreville of 1962 (in force since January 1st, 1964) revised by the Bangui Treatment of 1977.
Existing trademarks can be extended to new member states within 18 months.
AIPO/OAPI becomes a member of the Madrid Protocol on 5 March 2015.
Trademark protection is obtained by registration.
Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Comoro Islands, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
Nice classification, 11th edition. Multiple-class applications are possible. However, Goods and Services classes need to be filed separately.
Requirements for trademark registration in OAPI
1. Name and address of the applicant including his nationality
2. A clear reproduction of the sign to protect.
3. The list of goods or services where registration of the mark and the corresponding classes of the Nice Classification (last edition)
4. If any colour is claimed, it must be précised on the form after the payment of a colour publication fee.
5. If there is a priority claim, the certified copy of the priority document (certified copy of former application) or the assignment of priority (if any).
6. A Power of Attorney (POA) simply signed.
* For each trademark a new power of attorney is necessary. However, for many trademarks filed on behalf of the same applicant on the same day, a single power of attorney is sufficient.
* Remark: When the application concerns at the same time, goods and services, it will be divided in two different applications: one for goods and the other for services.
Procedure of Trademark Registration in OAPI
* The application is filed at the Central Office in Yaoundé (Cameroon). It can also be filed at the Liaison offices located in all member states.
* When filing the application, the Organization shall draw up a report recording the said deposit and the transmission of the documents.
* The application process includes only a formal examination, without indication of possible identical or similar trademarks. In the case where the application is not rejected, the registration is made and is issued to the holder in the form of a registration certificate.
This registration certificate is published in the Special Register of Marks (Trademark Bulletin).
The registration order is issued within 7 months after the submission of the application after a conclusive examination. In practice, the order is issued after 3 months if the request presents no difficulty.
National Opposition Period
The opposition period is 6 months from the publication date of the trademark in the Official Gazette.
An appeal against an opposition decision can be filed by anyone with the High Commission of Appeal. The High Commission of Appeals is a body responsible for ruling on appeals in review for the assignment of titles. Anyone challenging a decision made by the Director General may seize the Commission.
From the filing of the application until the registration of the trademark, the procedure duration is about12 months, approximately.
The duration of protection for a trademark or service mark is 10 years from the filing date. The renewal must be required before the 10th anniversary of the filing date. There is a grace period of 6 months for late renewals with additional tax for late renewal.