Somaliland does not have any laws specifically dealing with the protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). However, Article 16 (2) of the Somaliland Constitution provides that "the law shall determine the rights to authoring, creating and inventing" and thus imposes on the Government of Somaliland an obligation to implement laws dealing with the protection and enforcement of IPRs.

Since no laws have been implemented yet, Article 130 (5) of the Somaliland Constitution is instructive as it recognises the application of the pre-1991 Somali laws until the promulgation of new laws in Somaliland, provided as the laws are not in conflict with Sharia Law, individual rights and fundamental freedoms. That said, pre-1991 Somali laws dealing with registration and enforcement of trade marks cannot be enforced since Somaliland needs to set up systems and offices for the registrations to be effected.

In the absence of a system for the application and registration of trade marks in Somaliland, trade mark owners are increasingly relying on publication of cautionary notices as a means of enforcing their trade mark rights. The cautionary notice serves as a notice to the public of the proprietorship of the trade mark and warns against the unauthorised use of the trade mark by third parties, which use will result in the proprietor taking appropriate legal action.

In order to attend to the publication of a cautionary notice, we require the following:

  • A clear copy of the trade mark representation; and
  • The name and address of the proprietor of the trade mark.

To ensure that the cautionary notice reaches a wider audience, the notice is published in both print and online newspapers. For the print version, the publication will be made in an English newspaper published once every week. Thereafter, the online version will be available on the website within two working days.

It is possible to publish the notice in the Somali language should you opt to do so. In this case, the notice would appear in a Somali newspaper published four times a week on Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Once published in the newspaper, the online version will also be published on the website. We recommend republication of the cautionary notice every two to three years.

We will continue to engage with the Registry regarding the situation in Somalia/ Somaliland and keep our clients apprised of any and all developments.

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.