The Madrid Protocol is an international treaty designed to simplify the international trademark registration process. Using this process, registrants are able to complete a single application, in their home language, that can then be applied to over 90 member countries. The following thirty eight African countries are Madrid members:
Algeria, Botswana, Egypt, eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, OAPI (The African Intellectual Property Organization, including the following member states: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros Islands, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo), Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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.