Gambia: Is it possible to register trade marks through the ARIPO system?
ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation) is a regional IP registration system that enables brand owners to get trade mark protection in one or more African countries through a central filing together with country designation. Eleven countries can be covered through an ARIPO trade mark registration (Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé e Príncipe, Uganda, Tanzania (mainland) and Zimbabwe).
On 4 May 2021 ARIPO announced that Gambia had joined the ARIPO trade mark treaty, the Banjul Protocol on Marks, and that it would therefore become a member of the ARIPO trade mark registration system with effect from 3 August 2021*. What this means is that, as of 3 August 2021, trade mark owners will be able to designate Gambia in an ARIPO trade mark application.
Gambia is what is known as a ‘British-law country’. A consequence of this is that international treaties do not become part of Gambian law until such time as they are specifically enacted in local legislation. The Banjul Protocol on Marks has not been incorporated in legislation in Gambia.
This means that
Any designation of Gambia in an ARIPO trade mark application will have no effect in Gambia. Purported trade mark registrations will be open to attack.
This will only change when
A draft IP law that specifically incorporates the Banjul Protocol into Gambian law is enacted**. We do not know when this will happen, although local sources are hopeful that the bill will be tabled at the next sitting of the National Assembly and that it will be enacted before 3 August 2021. In the meantime the safest course will be to use the national trade mark system.
We will publish an update when this draft law comes into force.
*The formal term for joining is “deposited its instrument of ratification”.
** An Act to Repeal the Industrial Property Act 2007, see Section 61(13).
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