Industrial Property Developments in Africa and Surrounding Islands


Trade Mark Protection By Cautionary Notices


The Government of Eritrea, which for some years would not accept cautionary notices for publication in the Government-owned newspaper by trade mark proprietors, is now permitting their publication. Unlike the system in neighbouring Ethiopia (from which Eritrea became independent in 1993), the publication is not regulated by any Government Department and does not result in any official recordal or certificate.

Nevertheless, the publication of a Cautionary Notice may be expected to assist the proprietor, in court proceedings against imitators, under Eritrean laws corresponding to the common-law doctrine of passing-off, or unfair competition under civil law systems.

This new development will be welcome to trade mark owners, interested in Eritrea as a vibrant, though small, emerging nation. Spoor & Fisher Jersey are in a position to arrange publication of cautionary notices, on receipt of the usual details of proprietor, mark and goods or services to be claimed.


Combined Industrial Property Law

A new, combined Intellectual Property Law (No 82/2002) was enacted on 3rd June, 2002, and is expected to come into effect, on publication of the Regulations, within the next month. It repeals existing laws on trade marks, patents, copyrights and industrial designs, except the existing patent provisions, relating to chemical products pertaining to foodstuffs, and provisions relating to pharmaceutical products, which will remain in effect until 1st January, 2005.

Features of the new law are:


New categories of un-patentable inventions include – those which are contrary to national security or harmful; scientific discoveries, theories, mathematical methods, computer programs; medical and veterinary methods of diagnosis and treatment and surgery; living organs, tissues and cells; natural biological materials, DNA and genome; plants and animals, whether or not rare or peculiar; biological methods for production of plants or animals, apart from those mentioned in the next paragraph.

Patent protection will become available for micro-organisms and for non-biological and micro-biological methods for producing plants and animals and also for inventions in the fields of chemistry relating to foodstuffs, and of pharmaceutical preparations. "Black Box" applications for these may be filed from commencement of the new Act to remain pending until 1st January, 2005.

The term of a patent, including subsisting patents, becomes 20 years.

Application fees will be increased by 1000% and examination fees will become payable.

Universal Novelty will now apply.

Utility Model Protection is now available, the term being 7 years, and also layout-designs (topographies) of integrated circuits, the term being 10 years.

There are new provisions against disclosure of information.

Trade Marks

The definition of a mark is revised to comply with TRIPS obligations; signs must be visually perceptible.

New provisions are made for protection, in terms of Article 6 bis of the Paris Convention, of marks that are well known in Egypt, whether or not registered there.

The term for filing opposition against an advertised trade mark application is reduced from 3 months to 60 days. N.B. This has already been brought into effect administratively, with effect from the Journal published 23rd September, 2002.

A trade mark may now be assigned apart from the business and/or the goodwill of the business in which it is used.New provisions are made for protection of geographical indications, within the Trade Mark legislation.

Industrial Designs and Models

New provisions are made for registration of arrangements of lines and three dimensional shapes, with or without colours, if new and capable of industrial application. The term of protection is 10 years, renewable for a further 5 years.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.