The Tenth Session of the Working Group on the Improvement of ARIPO Protocols Relating to Industrial Property was held virtually from 13th to 14th May 2021.
The Working Group was established in 2013 after recognizing the need to improve the ARIPO Protocols continually. It provides a platform to discuss and propose improvements to the ARIPO Protocols related to Industrial Property and improve the implementation of these Protocols.
The two-day event attracted 74 participants, delegates from the following Member States attended the Session: Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda; also represented were the IP law firms from Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.
The Chairperson of the Working Group, Ms. Brenda Matanga, in her opening remarks, called upon users of the ARIPO system to continuously interrogate the Protocols and contribute towards “shaping the IP landscape in Africa.” She also thanked ARIPO for being fully operational throughout the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and effectively serving its customers through its online system.
The Director General of ARIPO, Bemanya Twebaze, officially opened the 10th Session of the Working Group. In his speech, he expressed his gratitude for the continued support and invaluable contributions made during the previous Working Group Sessions, which had allowed ARIPO to align its Protocols with international standards whilst responding to the needs of Member States and users of the ARIPO system.
Bemanya also highlighted that COVID-19 had a negative impact with regard to new applications filed in 2020. There was a decrease in the number of applications compared to the year 2019. However, the Office’s operations were not disrupted, as the eService platform proved very effective during the COVID-19 induced lockdowns as it ensured business continuity.
The ARIPO Secretariat delivered several presentations to the Working Group.
The presentation “Operations and Status of the Banjul, Harare and Swakopmund Protocols” highlighted the performance of the Protocols in 2020 and also reflected on performance in the last five years.
A total of 754 patent applications were filed in 2020 compared to 868 filed in 2019, a 13% decrease in filings. The average monthly filings in 2020 stood at 62.8 applications.
With respect to marks, 342 applications containing 662 classes were filed. The 2020 filings decreased by 16.7% compared to 2019.
The Working Group discussed and made improvements to the proposals on Harare and Banjul Protocols and identified modifications to be made to the eService platform to improve the implementation of the Protocols.
The presentation “Report on the Regional ICT projects for IP Business Processing” highlighted eService platform proved very effective during the COVID-19 induced lockdowns as it ensured business continuity. There was an increase in the uptake of the online services with 85% of all new applications received in 2020 filed online compared to 77% in 2019. Individually, patents recorded the highest percentage, with 97% of the applications filed online.
The proposals on improvement of Harare and Banjul Protocols from the Working Group will be discussed further by the Technical Committee on Industrial Property which will make the final proposals to be discussed and approved by the Administrative Council.
The event concluded with the adoption of the Report. The Chairperson thanked all participants, delegates, the Secretariat and all those who were involved in making the 10th Session of the Working Group a success.