A central office for filing for patent and trade mark protection in the former French colonies in Africa was first formed under the Libreville agreement in 1962. The office was then called the “Office Africain et Malgache de la Propriete Industrielle” (OAMPI). A new accord named the Bangui Agreement was adopted in 1977 and the Office changed its name to “Organisation Africaine de la Propriete Intellectuelle” (OAPI) also known as the African Intellectual Property Organization (AIPO). By a further accord, made (also at Bangui, Central African Republic) with effect from 28 February 2002, a revised version of the Bangui Agreement was adopted and is deemed, with its Annexes one-ten, to be the national law of each member State concerning patents, utility models, trade marks, industrial designs, business names, geographical indications, copyright, protection against unfair competition, layout (designs) of integrated circuits and plant variety protection.
Membership of International Conventions:
- OAPI is a member of the Paris Convention.
- OAPI became a contracting party to the Hague Agreement with effect from 16 September 2008.
There are seventeen member States of OAPI which include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros (except Mayotte), Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo. An OAPI design application automatically covers all member states and it is not possible to designate the countries of interest.
Novelty is destroyed by any disclosure anywhere in the world by publication in tangible form, by use or by any other means before the filing date or, where applicable, before the priority date of the application for registration. The novelty shall not be denied if, during the twelve months preceding the date specified above, the industrial design was the subject of disclosure resulting from:
(a) an obvious violation in relation to the applicant or his predecessor in title; or
(b) the fact that the applicant or his predecessor in title has displayed it at an official or
officially recognised international exhibition.
Any arrangement of lines or colours shall be considered a design, and any three-dimensional shape, whether or not associated with lines or colours, shall be considered a model, provided that the arrangement or shape gives a special appearance to an industrial or craft product and may serve as a pattern for the manufacture of such a product.
If the object can at the same time be considered a new design and a patentable invention and if the elements constituting the novelty of the design are inseparable from those of the invention, the object may only be protected as a patent or a utility model.
Industrial designs the exploitation of which is contrary to public policy or morality may not be registered, on the understanding that the commercial exploitation of the designs is not considered contrary to public policy or morality merely on account of its being prohibited by a legal or regulatory provision.
The same filing may include from one to one hundred designs, which shall be numbered from first to last, provided that they belong to the same class of the International Classification (Locarno Agreement) or to the same set or range of articles.
- Power of Attorney (can be late filed).
- Drawings or photographs of design (required on the day of filing).
- Description/statement of novelty (required on the day of filing).
- Priority Document (can be late filed within three months from filing).
- Sworn Translation of Priority Document if not in English or French (can be late filed within three months from filing).
- Priority Assignment, if applicable (can be late filed within three months from filing).
- Sworn Translation of Priority Assignment if not in English or French.
- Details of International Classification (can be late filed within three months from filing).
Possible for a period not exceeding twelve months following the filing date of the application, or following the priority date thereof where priority is claimed.
Average Period from Application to Registration:
Duration and Renewal:
The initial term of an OAPI design registration is five years from the filing date. This term is extendible, upon payment of the required fees, for two further terms of five years each.