10 February 2013

Ethiopia: Long Overdue Trademark Registration Law to Be Implemented

Nearly five years later than was first proposed new trademark regulations anger many owners, agents, legal advisors

The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office will charge 3,000 Br for the re-registration of trademarks, announced the Director of Trademarks & Protection, Abebe Tesfa (far right).

The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) is to start re-registering trademarks within a month, under a July 2006 proclamation, which should have been implemented by the middle of 2008.

The Office, which made the announcement at a meeting in Kaleb Hotel, on February 5, 2013, will also investigate 8,000 trademarks registered before the proclamation.

The EIPO produced a directive for the registration after the Council of Ministers approved its regulation on December 24, 2012, six years after its proclamation.

The Office will charge 3,000 Br for each trademark, but 8,000 trademarks that were registered before the proclamation was issued will pay an additional 1,750 Br, in order to finance an investigation, according to Abebe Tesfa, director of Trademarks & Industrial Design Protection, and development director at the Office.

Under the re-registration, trademarks will be extended for a seven-year period, and renewal for another seven years will cost 2,220 Br. Previously local trademarks were legally protected for two years, whilst international trademarks were protected for six years. Trademarks that have not been used for three years could also be passed on to a third party, if requested.

Fourteen thousand trademarks, half of which are from outsideEthiopia, have been registered since 1985, Abebe says. The trademarks will be re-registered in the order that they were issued.

The re-registration will be completed within a year and half, according to Abebe, and the trademark certificates will be issued two months after publication in a newspaper.

Trademark owners, agents and legal advisors, who attended the meeting at Kaleb Hotel, complained that the proclamation is too old to be implemented as it is, adding that earlier owners had already been forced to lose their trademarks, since then, to new owners through court decisions.

Abebe blamed capacity problems for the delay in implementation, admitting that "high risk" trademark snatching had occurred after the proclamation.

"We might think to change it according to challenges that come once the re-registration has begun," said Abebe, responding to several calls for the amendment of the regulation.

The EIPO was established in 2003 to administer trademarks, patents and copyrights, which used to be handled under the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Science & Technology and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, respectively, before its establishment.

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