Amendments to ARIPO’s Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs.
The ARIPO Secretariat in late November 2019 at ARIPO’s Administrative Council meeting held in Monrovia, Liberia made proposals to amend the Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs and its Implementing Regulations. The Secretariat made these proposed amendments after having invited Member States and users of the Harare Protocol to submit proposals for the improvement of the Harare Protocol. The proposals submitted were considered at a Working Group session and then put forward to the Technical Committee on Industrial Property for consideration and finalisation. The finalised proposals were then presented by the Secretariat at the Administrative Council meeting in Liberia.
The proposals are meant to address a number of issues including and not limited to: designating further Member States in an ARIPO application prior to publication thereof (this is not possible for PCT regional phase applications); providing for a fee to withdraw Member State designations; making provision for the publication of ARIPO applications after 18 months from the date of filing or earliest priority date if priority is claimed; and introduction of a provision for early publication of ARIPO applications upon request and subject to payment of the prescribed fee.
In addition, and possibly the most important change for applicants, is an amendment which now makes excess page and claim fees for ARIPO patent applications due at the time of requesting substantive examination. Substantive examination of ARIPO patent applications must be requested within three years of the international filing date for PCT regional phase applications, or within three years from the ARIPO filing date for convention applications. Applicants will now need to consider reducing the number of claims and pages either at the time of filing an application or prior to filing a request for examination in order to avoid substantial excess fees.
By Mpumelelo Nkomo, Patent Department, reviewed by Gunther Roland, head of our African patent and designs practice