Life of a trademark at the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation

The African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) allows an applicant to register a regional trademark, which designates the following countries:

  • Botswana;
  • Eswatini;
  • Lesotho;
  • Liberia;
  • Malawi;
  • Namibia;
  • Sao Tome and Principe;
  • Tanzania;
  • Uganda; and
  • Zimbabwe.

One of the main differences between ARIPO and the African Intellectual Property Organisation is that at the former it is possible to designate several or all member states.

The trademark registration system in ARIPO is fairly simple – there is an online platform, which contains all the forms to be filled out. A trademark registration request can be made in less than 30 minutes if the applicant has the corrent information to hand.

Upon receiving the application, ARIPO processes the formal examination and communicates it to member states. These must then carry out a substantive examination in accordance with their national laws within nine months of ARIPO’s notification.

If the trademark meets the formal requirements it is published in the Marks Journals. Within three months it is possible for an opposition to be filed by an interested party. The opposition must be filed at ARIPO but the procedural and substantive examination of the opposition proceeding is carried out according to the laws of each member state.

If the application overcomes all obstacles and the granting fees have been paid, its concession is published in the journal. The trademark will then be valid for 10 years from the application date and is renewable for equal periods, consecutively.

After the trademark is granted, the applicant must bear in mind that cancellation is possible according to the laws of each member state. Cancellation (eg, due to lack of serious use), if successful, must be communicated to ARIPO and is published and recorded in the registration process.

Further, ARIPO allows for subsequent designations of member states, permitting the applicant to decide – during the pendency or after the granting – to designate more countries than those initially requested. Although elements of ARIPO’s practice are complex, its system is easily accessible, not only because of the technology available but also the clarity of its legislation when it comes to completing a trademark registration.


This is a co-published article, which was originally published in the World Trademark Review (WTR).

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