Africa patent application

Discussing Africa Patenting Options in The African Continent

The world’s second-largest continent, Africa is where some of the rapidly-growing economies are situated. There are more than 50 countries that are inside this continent and each one of them do implement their own versions of intellectual property law systems, this gives both domestic and foreign investors an engaging amount of options that they can choose from in order to protect their intellectual property rights as they do business in countries inside the continent.


Most investors go with patent systems that have extensive scrutinization processes in order to ensure the legalities of the patents that they would issue. These extensive scrutinization processes would also guarantee the patent’s compliance with the requirements for patentability that is written under the governing national law. Because of shortages on resources and the lack of capability, only select countries in Africa have the ability to perform an extensive scrutinization of patents. A lot of these countries are part of organizations like the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) employ, this allows businesses and individuals to be able to register a patent only once and it would be protected across all the countries that are part of the ARIPO and the OAPI. These organizations ease the burden of countries that are not able to process their own patenting system.


Member countries of ARIPO also don’t lose their own national laws regarding providing patent protection, businesses and individuals could either choose to file their patent protection through the ARIPO or a direct national filing to be handled by the member country.


Patent protection filed via the ARIPO is undergoing extensive scrutiny based on the rules written in the Harare Protocol combined with the already existing national law in that particular member country. ARIPO has filing offices spread across regions inside the member country, this would allow these filing offices to decide where the patent would be effective given that ARIPO has already provided their decision to grant the patent. Going beyond just the bounds of the Harare Protocol, an Africa patent application might also be rejected in a particular member country due to the nature of the product or invention. One example is the patent offices of Rwanda and Uganda objecting to patenting pharmaceutical products that may only be overcome through legal proceedings.


The OAPI, on the other hand, gives the option for businesses to obtain patent protection through then when they are operating inside the 17 member countries of OAPI. Currently, patent applications by the OAPI are not being heavily scrutinized in the same way as the ARIPO does. But, OAPI is soon to receive a revised intellectual property law known as the Bangui Agreement that when enforced would have them extensively scrutinize each patent registration they receive.


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