On October 1, 2018, Malawi implemented the Trademarks Act, 2 of 2018, replacing the Trade Marks Act 1957. The new Act effects the following salient updates to trademark law in Malawi:

  • Concept of “trademark” is broadened to include non-visual signs.
  • Service marks are now protectable, as are collective marks, certification marks, and Geographical Indications.
  • Refusals can be based on earlier registrations covering similar goods or services, and on well-known marks.
  • Infringement claims may be based on unauthorized use for similar goods/services (previously, limited to actual goods covered by the registration).
  • Registration and renewal terms are now ten years (previously, the registration term was seven years and renewal terms were fourteen years).
  • Registrations can be cancelled based on five years of non-use.
  • Use by a licensee, if recorded, is sufficient to withstand non-use cancellation.
  • Unfair competition actions are recognized.
  • It appears that ARIPO registrations designating Malawi will be valid going forward.