The 7th session of the Working Group on the Improvement of the ARIPO Protocols relating to Industrial Property was held at the ARIPO headquarters in Harare Zimbabwe on 3 and 4 May 2018. The Working Group is comprised of IP practitioners and Registry officials from various ARIPO member and observer states. The Working Group discussed proposals to amend the Harare Protocol which regulates the filing and prosecution of patents, utility models and industrial designs in ARIPO and also addressed some of the challenges in the operation of the Banjul Protocol which regulates Trade Mark matters in ARIPO. Adams & Adams was represented at this Working Group Session by Wynand Fourie.

The Harare Protocol has been amended several times over the past few years, however, amongst others, the Working Group proposed amendments to the regulations relating to ARIPO patent, utility model and industrial design applications which have not yet been published. Such applications shall not be made available for public inspection prior to publication and extracts may only be obtained therefrom with the consent of the applicant. There has been confusion around the deadline for payment of the fees for search and examination but it has now been clarified that the deadline is 3 years from the date of filing at ARIPO and 3 years from the international filing date, in respect of a PCT patent application.

The Working Group proposed to introduce a new Rule in the Banjul Protocol which prescribes that where an application has been accepted by any designated state or not rejected within the relevant time period, the ARIPO Office will publish the acceptance in the Marks Journal for 3 months. The notice should contain full details of the application. The Working Group agreed that it is necessary to first discuss the introduction of this new rule further and the proposal will be considered at the next session of the Working Group.

We also have the pleasure of reporting that the ARIPO e-filing platform is now available 24-hours a day.