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Amendments to Trademark Laws

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Jan 27, 2022 (Newsletter Issue 1/22)
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Amendments to IP Law Effective

The African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) announced that the new OAPI IP laws concerning trademarks, designs, utility models and geographical indications entered into force on January 1, 2022.

Some of the amendments are the following:
- Sound marks and audio-visual signs can now be registered as trademarks.
- Certification marks are registerable.
- Goods and services can now be included in the same trademark application.
- Divisional applications are now possible.
- There will be substantive examination on absolute grounds.
- Trademark applications will be published for opposition before registration.
- The opposition term will be 3 months instead of 6 months.
- The term for filing an appeal against opposition decisions will be 2 months instead of 3 months.
- Filing unregistered trademarks before a court of law after registration is now possible. Previously, such claims could only be filed with OAPI during the objection period following publication.
- Official fees have been amended. Additional trademark class fees are payable for the 2nd and each extra class.

The Bangui Agreement now explicitly refers to International Registrations. There had been doubts about the validity of International Registrations designating OAPI, as the Madrid Protocol was not previously included in the Bangui Agreement. Whether this clarifies the question of validity remains to be seen, as the prevailing opinion is that International Registrations can only become effective in OAPI once all member countries have ratified OAPI's accession to the Madrid Protocol.