Angola: patents in Africa – at a glance
As Africa’s economic significance grows, so does the need for patent protection in the continent. Africa is sometimes seen as being challenging, partly because of the co-existence of national and regional registration systems. This is the next in our series of country-specific updates. Here we focus on Angola.
Angola is the seventh largest country in Africa and it has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with oil and diamonds playing the lead roles. When it comes to patents, the legislation is the Industrial Property Law, No.3/92. Angola is a member of the Paris Convention, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the Patent Convention Treaty (PCT).
The inventor can file a patent application. Inventions made by employees in the course of their employment belong to the employer, although the employee must be named. If the employee uses their own resources, tools or materials, the invention belongs to the employee. In cases where the parties have contributed equally to the invention the patent will be jointly owned.
Patents of invention and national phase PCT applications are available. To be patentable an invention must be new, involve an inventive step and be industrially applicable. There are various exclusions such as discoveries which are contrary to public policy, morality, public health or public safety, and scientific principles or discoveries.
For an invention to be patentable, absolute (worldwide) novelty is required. Novelty is not destroyed if the disclosure occurred within six months of the filing of the application or the priority date, and if it resulted from an act committed by the owner or a predecessor in title, or an abuse committed by a third party with regard to the applicant or a predecessor.
It is a criminal offence for a third party to do the following: manufacture the goods covered by the patent; use the methods or processes covered by the patent; import, sell or export products manufactured in violation of the patent. Punishments include fines and imprisonment.
There are specific procedural requirements for non-PCT patents, with Portuguese translations required.
The law does not make specific provision for PCT applications and the best advice is to file the same documents as for national applications, together with the following: a copy of the Published International Application; a copy of the International Search Report; and a copy of the International Preliminary Report on Patentability (late filing is possible).
Patent applications are published for opposition purposes and a third party can file a notice of opposition within 60 days of publication. There are also provisions for cancellation (revocation).
A patent lasts for 15 years from the filing date - with national phase PCT applications the term is calculated from the PCT international filing date. Renewal fees are due annually from and including the filing date – with national phase PCT applications the first renewal fee is deemed due on the international filing date itself.
There are provisions for compulsory licences in cases where a patent is not exploited within three years of grant, or exploitation is interrupted for a period of more than one year.