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Trademark Update: Somalia

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Filing trade mark applications in Somalia

Since the Somali government was overthrown in 1991, it has not been possible to obtain registered trade mark protection in Somalia. It has intermittently been possible to publish Cautionary Notices in a national newspaper to alert third parties to trade mark owners’ rights, but this does not afford any registered rights and serves merely to create awareness of unregistered rights.

We have become aware that, while still recovering from the civil unrest, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (through the Trade Marks Office) is now accepting trade mark applications, relying on the laws that were in place in Somalia before the unrest broke out.

It appears that the Trade Marks Office is examining applications, but at present there is no publication procedure or opposition period in place.

A further negative aspect of this development is the prohibitively high official fees being charged by the Registry, which is currently set at USD 1,000 per class (single-class applications must be filed).

This appears to be a positive development, but we recommend that it still be approached with caution as the enforceability of any registration obtained would be uncertain until new laws are in place. It is also uncertain how the procedure would run and how long it would take to obtain registration, if the Registry even sees these applications through the process (we are reminded of the uncertainty around filing applications in South Sudan a few years ago, with this process still in suspension).

Trade mark owners wishing to obtain registered protection urgently can file applications with a hope that they will be recognised should new laws be enacted in due course, but in the meantime it is still possible to publish Cautionary Notices for those requiring public knowledge of their rights.

View this article in World Trademarks Review here.

By Adré Pretorius, Trademark Attorney