The ARIPO regional IP registration system is well established in the areas of patents, utility models, industrial designs, trade marks, traditional knowledge and plant variety protection*. But, as this note shows, there is now a focus on copyright too.

ARIPO Council

At a recent meeting, the ARIPO Council approved a document motivating a voluntary copyright registration system for ARIPO**. The document will now be submitted to the Diplomatic Conference for adoption.

Delegates at the meeting made all the right noises. One said that ‘Africa is a cradle of creativity… through this protocol, we hope to harness the potential of our creative industries for our economies’ growth and development.’ The speaker went on to say that ‘copyright offers opportunity for securing the value created by our book authors, singers, film makers, computer programmers…in diverse industries including the publishing, music, software, arts and crafts, advertising and broadcasting.’ Another speaker made the point that ‘the copyright-based industries are a major source of employment for especially our youth.’

Foreign IP bodies were also represented at the meeting. An EUIPO representative described Africa as ‘a major emerging economy’, and said that ‘six of the world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa. A JPO representative suggested that the meeting will ‘greatly contribute to establishing a framework, in which intellectual property can be appropriately protected in the entire African region, so as to achieve Africa’s sustainable economic growth.

We will follow this development with interest. It is important to bear in mind that ARIPO is a system whereby national registrations can be secured through a single, centralised filing at the ARIPO office. An ARIPO copyright registration system can therefore only be extended to those member countries that do in fact make allowance for registration of copyright.

Explore our ARIPO – Trade Marks FAQs.

Filing statistics

The report also highlights what we already knew (or at least supposed), namely that 2021 was a bad year for IP filings: filings were down across the board, with the exception of industrial designs. Of greater interest perhaps is where the filings went and from where they came from.

Patents – the main designations were Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Mozambique and Botswana. Most filings came from the USA, China, Sweden, Japan and Great Britain.

Industrial designs – the main designations were Kenya, Ghana, Botswana, Namibia and Rwanda. Most filings came from China, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Germany.

Trade marks – the main designations were Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi and Tanzania. Most filings came from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mauritius, China and the United Arab Emirates.


* The ARIPO system applies in the following countries- Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

**The meeting was the 11th Extra-ordinary Session of the Administrative Council of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), held in Kampala Uganda, 23-26 August 2021. The document is entitled the Draft Business Case on the Draft Protocol on Voluntary Registration and Notification of Copyright and Related Rights.

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