ARIPO is a regional intellectual property organization that is regulated by several protocols. With regard to patent applications, it is regulated by the Harare protocol whose member states are: Botswana, Kingdom of Eswatini, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Kingdom of Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Filing requests for protection
ARIPO requires in the application form to specify which member states the applicant seeks protection. Naturally, unlike OAPI, the cost will increase depending on the number of member states selected.
However, it is common for applicants to obtain more funding to designate more member states after they file the application. To alleviate this pressure, the Harare protocol establishes rules to require the addition of more member states.
The Harare Protocol states the following:
The applicant may, for ARIPO applications, add to the number of designated States at any time before publication of the application in accordance with Rule 19bis, by submitting a written request to the Office. This provision shall not apply to applications filed according to Section 3bis. The request referred to in sub-paragraph (3)(a) above shall be deemed to have been filed when the request fee, designation fee of the added designated State(s) as well as any outstanding maintenance fee in respect of added designated States has been lodged.
Late designations may be made at any time before publication of the application in accordance with Rule 19bis.
However, it is important to note that in the case of PCT regional phase applications, it is not possible to late designate states. This is a difference when compared to direct patent applications, not filed through PCT where it is possible to late designate member-states.
For all non-pct applications a mandatory 18-month publication period is applicable. Since it is not possible to know with complete certainty the date of publication of an application when it is requested, the applicant should apply for the addition of states as soon as possible within the indicated 18 months.
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.