OAPI: Former Director General sets out status quo and future plans

On 20 July 2017, at a ceremony marking the departure of the Director General of OAPI, Paulin Edou Edou, a number of important announcements were made:

Criticism: OAPI will not take kindly to criticism from lawyers who represent clients before OAPI - this seems to be a consequence of the furore that arose after OAPI ‘acceded’ to the Madrid Protocol a few years back, when a number of OAPI practitioners claimed that the accession had not been done correctly, and that there were consequently real doubts about the validity and enforceability of international registrations designating OAPI. This issue of whether or not the accession was legal has yet to be resolved by a court.

Denis Loukou Bohoussou took over as Director General of OAPI on 1 August 2017. On 21 April 2017 World Trademark Review reported on the impending change by saying that ‘new leadership could mean a change in direction at OAPI.’ It went on to talk of a ‘period of transition’, and said that ‘one thing that remains fairly constant is uncertainty around OAPI’s implementation of the Madrid Protocol.’ It may well be that OAPI’s position on the Madrid Protocol and the resulting criticism changes.

Annual Reports: The OAPI Annual Reports will resume. Copies of the 2014 and 2015 reports were handed out.

Computerisation: The computerisation of OAPI records that is taking place at present is leading to considerable delays, including delays with urgent searches.

Arbitration and Mediation Centre: The OAPI Arbitration and Mediation Centre is due to come into operation on 1 January 2018, and OAPI practitioners are urged to register as arbitrators and mediators. The Arbitration and Mediation Centre will be housed in the second floor of the old OAPI building that has recently been refurbished – the old building is adjacent to the current OAPI office in Yaounde, Cameroon.

E-Mail: Correspondence between OAPI and OAPI practitioners will increasingly be conducted by email.

Divisional patents: Requests for divisional patent applications must be made within the 30-month term provided for under the PCT. Unfortunately, this stance by OAPI effectively precludes PCT applicants from filing voluntary divisional patent applications under this deadline (i.e. prior to the regional phase entry deadline of 30 months), as there is no provision in the PCT which would allow for the filing of divisional applications during the International Phase. The fate of existing divisional applications filed outside of this deadline is unclear.

Comoros: OAPI patents granted before Comoros became an OAPI member definitely do not cover Comoros. It is unclear why this issue was raised as it has been clear for some time.

Auditorium: The OAPI auditorium will be named after the Director General, so the Paulin Edou Edou Auditorium.

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Date published: 3 August 2017
Author: Spoor & Fisher

Tags: OAPI Madrid protocol trade marks patents Comoros