The Union of the Comoros will become a full member of OAPI (African Intellectual Property Organisation) as of 25 May 2013.
Previously, and with the exception of Mayotte*, there has been no Industrial Property legislation in the Comoros, and the only means whereby some kind of protection could possibly be obtained lay in the informal publication of a cautionary notice in a local newspaper.
All trade marks, patents, designs, utility models and plant varieties filed with OAPI on or after 25 May 2013 will be effective in the Union of the Comoros. Existing OAPI applications and registrations, filed before accession, do not extend to Comoros. OAPI trade mark rights will automatically extend on the next renewal after the effective date of the accession. However, the effective date of the rights in Comoros will be the date the mark is renewed, not the effective date of the Comoros accession. Patent rights will not automatically cover Comoros and a formal extension is required.
If an owner of an OAPI trade mark or patent right wishes to extend their rights, the extension must be filed within 20 months of the date of the accession of the new member to OAPI. In the case of the Comoros, the deadline expires on 25 January 2015.
Extensions filed after the deadline date will be subject to additional fees.
Additionally, the Comoros will be included in the designation of OAPI in the international phase of PCT applications with effect from 25 May 2013.
The Union of the Comoros has been a member of the PCT in its own right since 3 April 2005, despite having no national Industrial Property law. It is likely, however, that the only way to obtain effective patent protection in the Comoros is by obtaining an OAPI registration or by designating OAPI in the international phase of a PCT application.
*Mayotte is not part of the Union of the Comoros; it is a French overseas “département”, and is therefore covered by French patent, trade mark and design registration.
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