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Trademark Update: Rwanda

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Grace period for late renewal of trade marks filed in Rwanda before 14 December 2009

As previously reported (see news post here) The Rwanda Law 31/2009 on the Protection of Intellectual Property was enacted in 2009 and came into force on 14 December 2009. In terms of this law, all trade marks registered under old laws had to be renewed within 10 years from the date of entry into force of the new Law, i.e. by 14 December 2019.

Although the new Law makes provision for a grace period for late renewal of trade mark registrations, it appears that the Registry interpreted this as only applying to marks registered under the new law. As such, a notice was published on 18 November 2019 stating that all marks registered under the old law that are not renewed by 14 December 2019 will be deemed to be abandoned.

The Registrar General has now issued a notice dated 31 January 2020, advising rights owners that a grace period of ten months (ending on 13 October 2020) has been granted for late renewal of these old registrations. This is (as is usual practice) subject to the payment of a surcharge for late renewal.

This is good news for owners of old trade mark registrations who were not aware of the new law, or simply missed the deadline to renew their marks, as they can now ensure that these old registrations remain valid and in force in Rwanda.

By Adré Pretorius, Trademark Attorney