The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization’s (“ARIPO”) held its 40th Administrative Council Session in Harare, Zimbabwe, in December 2016. The Harare Protocol on Patent, Industrial Designs and Utility Models (“The Protocol”) has undergone important and notable amendments which came into effect on 1 January 2017.
The Protocol’s improvements and amendments relate to patents, utility models and industrial designs filed in accordance with the ARIPO Protocol. There has also been a marked increase in the official fees of the ARIPO Office in respect of patents, industrial designs and utility models.
Some of The Protocol’s improvements and amendments to ARIPO patents, utility models and industrial designs include the following:
• The Protocol provides for post-grant amendments if an Applicant applies in writing and pays the prescribed fee, on condition that the amendment falls wholly within the scope of the claims prior to an amendment.
• Substantive examination is now required to be requested when filing an ARIPO patent application.
• The inclusion of a provision for restoration (reestablishment of rights). The condition to restoration is the non-observance of the time limit which was a direct consequence of a refused or withdrawn application. A successful restoration will be published in the ARIPO Journal.
• Provisions on drafting claims involving methods of treatment and multiple dependent claims have been included.
• Guidelines on biotechnological inventions have been included in Rule 7 and patentable biotechnological inventions and exceptions thereto in 7bis.
• A three month extension period may be applied for if the Applicant requests same in writing and pays the prescribed fee.
• Publication of ARIPO patent applications have been introduced. Publication will take place soon after the expiry of 18 months from the date of filing or the earliest priority date.
• A provision on divisional patent applications have been introduced. A divisional application which relates to a pending earlier ARIPO patent application must be filed at the ARIPO office.