On 25 January 2016, Botswana’s Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (“the CIPA”) issued a notice informing the public that it is not currently able to conduct hearings for trade mark oppositions and invalidations as a result of the recent restructuring of the Botswana Intellectual Property Office. The restructure led to the loss of staff responsible for the processing of opposition hearings and invalidations.

The notice mentions that the office is looking for an interim solution to address the gap caused by the restructuring. However, the long-term plan is to review the relevant provisions of the Industrial Property Act 8 of 2010 for purposes of creating a Trademarks Tribunal, which could attend to these matters on a structured basis.

The CIPA has promised to make the proposed provisions and submissions available to the public for comment to ensure that an effective and sustainable tribunal structure is established. In the meantime, the office will continue to receive and acknowledge all trade mark oppositions and invalidations lodged with it.

While the current hiatus is not ideal, we are pleased to note that there are concrete plans to address the situation.

Reviewed by Ilse du Plessis, director in ENSafrica’s intellectual property department.