After some 8 years in office, Mr Stephan Magagula, Registrar of Trade Marks in Swaziland, retired from office on 1 December 2017.

During his time as Registrar, Mr Magagula sought to improve and update the intellectual property legislation in Swaziland. In this regard, in 2015, he had a hand in preparing the Industrial Property Tribunal Bill and, more importantly, the Trade Mark (Amendment) Bill.

The Trade Mark (Amendment) Bill is a welcome development since it seeks to bring Swaziland’s national legislation in line with its international obligations under the Madrid and ARIPO filing systems. Currently, Swaziland may be designated as a country in which protection is sought in both Madrid and ARIPO applications. The problem is, however, that Swaziland’s Constitution provides that ratification of an international or regional treaty does not, in and of itself, render the relevant treaty binding on the company. Thus, even though Swaziland may be designated as a country in which protection may be sought under both systems, there is, currently, no legislation in place directing the Registry on how to deal with those application. As such, any registrations acquired under those systems may be invalid. As mentioned above, the Trade Mark (Amendment) Bill is a first step towards rectifying this position.

Although the two bills mentioned above have been prepared, they have not yet been presented to Parliament for debate. It is hoped that the next Registrar will continue in Mr Magagula’s stead and push for the promulgation of these bills.

Until such time as the laws have been amended, we strongly suggest that trade mark owners continue to file national trade mark applications.