OAPI - New Law Comes into Force on 28 February 2002

The OAPI (or African Union as it is sometimes known) Intellectual Property Organisation was created in the 1960´s and is probably one of the most important IP Registries on the African continent. With a single registration, protection automatically extends to all member States, at the time of filing, without the need to designate States of interest.

At present there are sixteen member States, namely:

Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

The law governing the registration and enforcement of Intellectual Property rights has recently been amended to ensure compliance with TRIPS and the new law will come into force on 28 February 2002.

This new law introduces a number of changes, and the most significant are:

Trade Marks

It is no longer necessary to file proof of use of a trade mark on renewal.

This will not only apply to renewals falling due on or after 28 February 2002 but also to those renewals falling due between 28 August 2001 and 27 February 2002 which are renewed (with late fine) within the six month grace period.

Please note that in theory, all relevant renewal applications filed before 28 February 2002 should be supported by proof of use.

A registration will now become vulnerable to an attack for cancellation, on the grounds of non use, if the trade mark has not been used for five (5) years prior to the action for cancellation - previously the term was five (5) years from the registration date.

It is no longer necessary to obtain approval for the recordal of certain assignments or license agreements.


It is no longer necessary to apply for the extension of term of a patent beyond ten (10) years. Instead the term of all patents is extended to 20 years subject, of course, to the payment of annuities.

PCT applications will now be the subject of a substantive examination. Previously they were excluded and only National applications were the subject of examination.

It is no longer necessary to obtain CNA approval for certain Assignments or License Agreements.

The twelve (12) month deadline for the recordal of Assignments and other post-registration matters has been abolished.

Click here for OAPI Filing Requirements

Michael Sevant

Spoor & Fisher

Date published: 2003/01/01
Author: Mike Sevant

Tags: oapi new law trade marks