On 13 March 2017, the promulgation of implementing regulations in Zimbabwe set in motion the process of ratification of the Madrid Protocol, some two years after Zimbabwe became a member. Zimbabwe was announced as the 94th member of the Madrid system in December 2014. The regulations which give recognition to the Madrid Protocol were published in the Government Gazette Vol XCIV, No. 16 dated 13 March 2017 and are cited as the Trade Marks (Madrid Protocol) Regulations, 2017. The effect of the regulations is that a trade mark registered by the Zimbabwean Trade Marks Office in accordance with the Madrid Protocol is accorded the same effect as a trade mark registered under the national Trade Marks Act. The Trade Marks Act (Chapter 26:04) and Trade Marks regulations apply to the holder of an international registration designating Zimbabwe and to an applicant for an international registration originating in Zimbabwe.
Although the new regulations make it possible for owners of international registrations (obtained via WIPO’s Madrid system) to designate Zimbabwe, it is nonetheless to be recommended that brand owners continue to secure registration of their valued trade marks on a national basis in Zimbabwe. Trade marks filed through the Madrid system will remain speculative in Zimbabwe until such time as the Zimbabwean IP Office (ZIPO) has digitized all of their records (and uploaded them to WIPO’s IPAS system by which Madrid designations are recorded) and ZIPO is equipped to examine applications within WIPO’s strict timelines. This process is likely to take some time owing to Registry backlogs, staffing issues and a lack of proper investment of funds by the Zimbabwean Government into the improvement of ZIPO’s operations.