South Africa: Spoor & Fisher Opens New Office In Africa
Last Updated: 10 February 2012

International Intellectual Property ("IP") firm, Spoor & Fisher, is pleased to announce the opening of a new office in OAPI (also known as the African Union). Spoor & Fisher OAPI is serviced by Professor Ephraim Ngwafor, its Executive Director, based in Cameroon.

The need for on-the-ground staff who can deliver the quality assurance clients expect, is key. Professor Ngwafor is an accredited IP agent in OAPI and is well respected in the region.

An increasing number of businesses are choosing to register and protect their IP in the OAPI region, which covers 16 countries with a combined population of well over 100 million. A single registration at the Organisation's directorate in Yaoundé, Cameroon, automatically confers protection in all member states. The Office is well resourced and deals effectively with all types of Intellectual Property.

OAPI is a "first to file" territory which means that normally, if you are first to file a trade mark, you have the exclusive rights to use it. However, there is an important exception to this principle. For example, a recent case involved Mr Phillip Gross, who had been the first to file his application to register "EBAY". An opposition was filed by eBay Inc. of California whose application for registration of its own trade mark was later than that of Mr Gross, but who supplied evidence of its earlier use of its own mark. The opposition was upheld by the Director General who invoked the principle of good faith, and held that the speculative, simultaneous filing of numerous popular brands (also WINDOWS, MICROSOFT and VISA) was proof of his bad faith. The decision is a reassurance of the rights of multinational corporations to protect their Intellectual Property in OAPI.

Managing Director of Spoor & Fisher in Jersey (Channel Islands), Wayne Meiring, commented, "We are delighted to have formalised our relationship with Professor Ngwafor, which has evolved over several years. We have fulfilled one of our key strategic goals by securing exclusively his services covering all aspects of IP, coupled with the opening of Spoor & Fisher OAPI. Ready access to Professor Ngwafor's skills and expertise means that we will maintain and enhance our responsive and reliable service in OAPI for the ongoing benefit of our clients."

Professor Ngwafor said, "I am proud to become part of the Spoor & Fisher network and to have the opportunity to develop my practice with such a broad international blue-chip client base. The combination of our intellectual capital, local market knowledge and established relationships with the registries in the OAPI countries, gives Spoor & Fisher a clear competitive advantage in the region."

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