“IP is like potential energy – the output depends on the force applied. Make your IP work for you.” – Aoife Butler


  1. In Africa, there are two regional bodies in which to file patent and trade mark applications, namely OAPI ( and ARIPO ( South Africa and Nigeria, who each has its own patent office, are not party to either of the regional organisations.  We file patent and trade mark applications in OAPI and ARIPO through a network of dedicated agents.
  2. ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organization) has the capacity to hear applications for patents and trade marks in its member states who are parties to the Harare (patents), Banjul (marks) and Arusha (plant varieties) protocols. ARIPO also features a protocol on the protection of traditional knowledge.
  3. ARIPO has the following 19 member states, which are mostly English-speaking countries:


Botswana Gambia
Ghana Kenya
Lesotho Liberia
Malawi Mozambique
Namibia Rwanda
São Tomé and Príncipe Sierra Leone
Somalia Sudan
Swaziland Tanzania
Uganda Zambia



4.1 Member states in which protection is required must be selected at the time of filing an ARIPO application.  No additional member states can be added after the filing date, although selected member states can be abandoned after the filing date.
4.2 Renewal fees are paid according to the number of selected member states.
4.3 No post-grant validation procedure.
4.4 The following minimum requirements must be met to secure a valid filing date in respect of an ARIPO national phase patent application out of a PCT application:

    • Specification, claims and abstract in English (MS Word format)
    • Drawings
    • International Publication number
    • International Patent Classification

4.5 The following additional documents are required to complete the filing requirements:

Within 2 months of the national filing date · Original executed Power of Attorney
  · Certified Deed of Assignment, if a copy of the Deed of Assignment was not lodged with WIPO
Within 3 months of the national filing date · Certified copy of priority document (if not lodged with WIPO)
Filed at any time after the national filing date · International Search Report and Written Opinion
  · International Preliminary Report on Patentability



5.1 The relevant protocol on trade marks for ARIPO is the Banjul Protocol, which came into effect on 6 March 1997.  However, not all member states that have acceded to the Banjul Protocol have amended their national Trade Marks Acts to recognize ARIPO registrations.  At present, the only countries whose national trade marks acts make provision for ARIPO trade mark applications and in which ARIPO trade mark registrations are enforceable are:


Botswana Lesotho
Liberia Malawi
Namibia Swaziland
Tanzania Uganda

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