ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation) is an organisation that facilitates registration and administration of intellectual property rights for various African countries. Membership of the organisation is open to all Member States of the African Union (AU) or of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). As of 31 December 2020, the organisation comprises of 21 member states. The organisation registry is located in Harare, Zimbabwe. ARIPO is mandated to grant patents on behalf of the Harare Protocol contracting states in accordance with the provisions of the Harare Protocol on patents, designs and utility models. The organisation is mandated to register marks and the administration of such registered marks on behalf of the Banjul Protocol Contracting States in accordance with the provisions of the Banjul Protocol on Marks.
The relevant protocol on trade marks for ARIPO is the Banjul Protocol. The protocol authorises ARIPO to register trade marks on behalf of the Banjul Protocol Contracting States. The Banjul Protocol establishes a trade mark application filing system along the lines of the Harare Protocol. An applicant may file a single application designating the specific contracting states either directly at the organisation or through a contracting state.
States currently party to the Banjul Protocol are: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It is important to note however, that not all the countries have incorporated the provisions of the Banjul Protocol into their national laws, effectively questioning the enforceability of ARIPO trade mark registrations in certain contracting states.
ARIPO Patents & Designs
The relevant protocol on patents and designs for ARIPO is the Harare Protocol. The organisation is also a member of the Paris Convention and of the PCT. The Harare protocol authorises ARIPO to register patents and designs on behalf of the contracting states. ARIPO Applications specifically require the applicant to designate those member states where protection is required.
Currently the states which have acceded to the Harare Protocol and who may therefore be designated in a patent or design application are: Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania (mainland), Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.