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Madrid Protocol in Africa

The Madrid Protocol is an international system for obtaining trade mark protection in a number of countries and/or regions using a single application which results in an International Registration (“IR”). An IR can only be obtained for countries and regions which have joined the system. IRs afford a bundle of rights administered centrally via the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Switzerland.

The Madrid system offers a convenient route to obtaining trade mark protection in many member states. However, it is important to note that one size does not fit all. In Africa there are a number of local considerations which impact on the validity and effectiveness of IRs. This can put trade mark rights at risk. It is important that these issues are taken into consideration when building a strong filing strategy.

The table below summarises the validity and effectiveness of IRs in the African member states.

*Note that Cape Verde deposited its instrument of accession on 6 April 2022 and the accession came into effect on 6 July 2022. In the process, Cape Verde became the 112th member of the Madrid Protocol. Cape Verde is a civil law country where international treaty obligations are accepted as binding on the national territory without any domestic legislation meaning that the Madrid Protocol is effective in Cape Verde. It is yet to be seen how International Registrations designating Cape Verde will be dealt with in practice by the local Intellectual Property Office.

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