Thursday, 7 February 2008

OHIM's latest stats: what they say about Africa

In the same way that relative prices of Mcdonald's burgers provide an insight into purchasing power across countries, trade mark stats give a rough-and-ready guide to levels of inward investment in a particular country eg through imports. This is particularly so in territories/countries that adopt a strict first-to-file-has-rights system which incentivises trade mark filings, like the European Community. So, what do the latest 12 year OHIM (Community Trade Martk Office) stats say about Africa's investment in Europe:

1. Total filings at OHIM using African addresses number 2288 - just over 1% of worldwide filings (excluding filings of EU Member States);

2. Of those total filings 1619 (or 71%) come from SA based applicants who rank within the top ten of worldwide filers (excluding EU Member States);

3. 57% of countries within Africa have company addresses for filings recorded at OHIM;

4. In 2007 Morocco, Tanzania, Egypt and Seychelles based companies made significant filings relative to their previous years;

5. Cameroon and Mozambique based companies used the OHIM system for the first time in 2007;

6. The top six filers in Africa are SA, Mauritius, Tunisia, Morocco, Seychelles and Egypt; and

7. 12% of all of Africa's filings were made in 2007.

Whilst these statistics are informative they have their shortcomings. For example they do not include filings of African offshore companies whose addresses may be in tax effecient IP countries such as Switzerland. They also exclude filings which are within Europe but not through the Community System ie through the Madrid Protocol or through the national route. In addition, as Africa is often called upon to manufacture or provide raw materials there is often little need to file trade marks.

They are also subject to the accuracy of Afro-IP's abacus.

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