ARIPO Administrative Council Meeting 2020

The 44th Session of the Administrative Council of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) was held between 16 – 20 November 2020 in Harare, Zimbabwe. The meeting was conducted in a hybrid format, as the Secretariat, diplomats and delegates from Zimbabwe gathered in person at ARIPO’s premises, while all other member states, including representatives from Adams & Adams, participated virtually from their home countries. The guest of honour was the Honourable Ziyambi Ziyambi, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of the Republic of Zimbabwe, who addressed the Council and officially opened the Session.

Due to the special circumstances under which the Session took place, it was resolved that only crucial issues relevant to the running of ARIPO would be discussed at the meeting.  Traditional items of the Council Agenda, such as proposed amendments to the ARIPO Protocols and other technical matters were discussed in a closed session, which excluded cooperating partners, observer states and users. ARIPO undertook to convene an extraordinary session this year, to consider the traditional items of the Agenda. This session is  yet to be scheduled.

At the Session, milestones of the year were highlighted by the outgoing Director General, Dr Fernando dos Santos, including the recent accession of Mauritius to ARIPO, bringing the total number of ARIPO member states to 20.  Adams & Adams , through our  Mozambique office has established excellent working relations with ARIPO and looks forward to continued engagement with the new Director General and his team.

Mr. Bemanya Twebaze

New ARIPO Director General Appointed

The 44th Session marked the end of Fernando dos Santos’s tenure as Director General of ARIPO. Dr Dos Santos has made an invaluable contribution during his time as Director General, including establishing a Working Group in which IP practitioners participate annually to debate possible amendments to the Protocols and suggested improvements to  ARIPO procedures.  Adams & Adams would like to thank Dr Dos Santos for all his hard work to promote ARIPO to the IP community worldwide.

Bemanya Twebaze, the former Registrar General of the Uganda Registration Services Bureau, was elected as the new Director General of ARIPO for the period of 2021 to 2024. Mr. Twebaze has been practising for more than 20 years in the field of commercial law, business registration, insolvency and intellectual property. He holds an Executive MBA from the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute (ESAMI), an honours degree in law from Makerere University in Kampala, a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre and several certificates in legal issues, administration, and management from both Ugandan and international training institutions. Mr. Twebaze also completed three Harvard Kennedy School Executive Educational Programs and was awarded an Executive Certificate in Public Leadership by Harvard University in 2017.

Decrease in Patent and Trade Mark Filings

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 2020  saw a drop in patent and trade mark filing numbers in ARIPO. The outgoing ARIPO Director General, Dr Fernando dos Santos, in his opening address to the 44th Session of the Administrative Council, lamented the negative effect of the COVID-19 pandemic with regard to new applications for the protection of intellectual property.

ARIPO Trade Mark Applications 2010 – 2020

ARIPO Patents Applications 2010 – 2020

ARIPO member states – update

Mozambique deposited its Instrument of Accession and the provisions of the Banjul Protocol entered into force on 15 August 2020. Mozambique is now one of the countries which can be designated in an ARIPO trade mark application. Mozambique, has been a member of the Harare Protocol for many years and can also be designated in ARIPO patent and design applications.

In addition, as of 25 September 2020, the Republic of Mauritius deposited its instruments of accession to the Lusaka Agreement, thereby becoming a member of ARIPO. However, until the Republic of Mauritius accedes to the ARIPO working Protocols (i.e. Harare or Banjul Protocols) it is not possible to designate Mauritius in any ARIPO applications.

Furthermore, The Gambia moved a motion for the accession to the Banjul Protocol and looks set to  become the 12th member state of the Banjul Protocol.

First Geographical Indication registered

In other relevant news, the first Geographical Indication (GI) was registered in ARIPO : the Cabrito de Tete,  a local goat breed from Tete province in Mozambique. As a result of the registered GI, Cabrito de Tete will now be commercialised under strict standards, which include breeding and processing rules.