The African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), which regulates industrial and intellectual property rights applicable to the group of member African countries, has implemented a series of modifications that entered into force on January 1, 2022. These changes affect to procedures related to trademarks, geographical indications, utility models and industrial designs.
Some of the most important measures are:
- Brand definition: Sounds and audio visual signs can be registered as a trademark.
- Certification marks: can now be registered.
- Combined products and services: From now on they can be included in the same trademark application.
- Divisional applications: It is now possible to divide a trademark application by services or products at any stage prior to registration.
- Exam: There is a substantive examination for absolute reasons.
- Publication: An application will be published after submission.
- Opposition: The opposition period will be 3 months from the date of publication.
- Claim of ownership: A previous user of a trademark that the applicant for a trademark knew about or should know about his previous rights.
- International registrations: There is a specific reference in the Bangui agreement, although we do not yet know whether or not it will resolve the validity issue since there is a strong opinion that international registrations are not effective in the OAPI until all countries ratify it.
- Cancellation of generic trademarks: It is now possible to cancel the registration of a trademark that, as a result of the actions of the owner of the registration, has become generic.
- Prescription for infringement: The statute of limitations for civil actions for infringement is from now on five years from the date of the infringement.
- Customs control: Customs authorities can stop suspected counterfeit products upon written request from the owner or beneficiary of the trademark. The trademark owner will have 10 days from the arrest of their products to initiate criminal proceedings.
- Extension: Protection is extended to agricultural, natural and artisan products.
- Publication / opposition: Applications for opposition purposes will be published. The opposition period will be 3 months.
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