Smit & Van Wyk Patent, Trademark & Registered Designs

ARIPO Trademarks

Trademark Registration and Protection

Smit & Van Wyk Intellectual Property law firm specialises in Trade Mark filings for ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organization). ARIPO is an intergovernmental organisation for English-speaking African countries which implements common administrative procedures from a uniform system for the protection of intellectual property. The relevant protocol for ARIPO trade marks is the Banjul Protocol, which 9 States have acceded to:

Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)

ARIPO requires the applicant to choose the specific member states where protection is required. (Unlike OAPI where a single application automatically covers all member states)

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Filing Requirements for ARIPO Trademark Applications

Power of Attorney
Scanned copy of simply signed Power of Attorney. (no notarization or legalization required)

Details of the trade mark(s)
Word mark or logo. If the trade mark is a logo, please send electronically. Details of colours claimed, if applicable.

Classes and list of goods and/or services
(try to limit to 5 items per application, additional charges apply for each additional item over 5)

Details of the applicant:
Full name. Nationality / country of incorporation. Physical address.

The official search is done by ARIPO and takes about 2 to 3 weeks. The usual timeframe from filing to registration is 24 to 36 months. After filing, when all filing requirements are complete, ARIPO will transmit the application to the designated countries(s) which must indicate acceptance or refusal of the application within 1 year from the transmission of the application. Accepted applications will be published for a 3 months opposition period. A trademark registration is valid for 10 years from the date of application and renewable every 10 years.


ARIPO trademarks require the applicant to choose the specific member states where protection is required (Unlike OAPI where a single application automatically covers all member states). ARIPO also features the Swakopmund Protocol on the protection of traditional knowledge.


To date only Botswana, Liberia and Zimbabwe have incorporated the provisions of ARIPO’s protocol on trademarks into their national legislation. As such, the validity of ARIPO trademarks in the remaining countries is unclear.

Madrid Trade Marks in Africa

Only nine of the thirty eight African members have enforced the Madrid Protocol through appropriate amendments to their national trade mark legislation, together with the implementation of enabling regulations, namely Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Even in these nine countries, practical issues exist such as the recognition of the national laws of each country, the enforceability of the International registration in those countries and the effect of national common law rights.  Procedural issues include adhering to the system’s strict processing timelines, irregular publication of Trade Mark Journals, late examination or non-examination and issues related to record keeping. At this stage, it is recommended that clients pursue national trade mark applications in each African country of interest.  We remain at your disposal to render advice as to which countries may enjoy a successful registration using the Madrid System.

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