Thursday 28 February 2013

Afro Ng'ombe

Ethiopia Enacts Implementing Regulations for Trademark Law


The current Ethiopian Trademark Law was enacted in 2006.  As is all too common in many countries, it took some time to get the actual implementing regulations into shape.  Now, seven years later, Ethiopia has the tools to enforce its trademark law, at least the legal tools. [Little Leo says perhaps a very adventurous student could use the nice side-by-side Amharic/English trademark law and regulations to learn Amharic.]

Describe by some as an “orthodox regime,” the Ethiopian trademark law covers standard marks – no smells or sounds – for a period of seven years with the option to renew as often as desired.  It’s important to note that if you need to deal with the Trademark Office, everything needs to be done in writing or it won’t count.  ( Regulations, Section 3.)  Applicants have 90 days to make corrections and submit missing pieces of an application before the application is approved for review.  (Section 14.) And, if the application is reviewed and there’s an office action requiring further attention, the applicant again has 90 days to respond.  (Section 19.)  Opposition to published marks must be submitted within 60 days of publication of the notice.  (Section 27.)  The Office is supposed to reply to the opposition within 30 days.  (Section 29.)  

International Considerations

Registration filings can be completed by the mark’s would-be owner or by an agent. But, any agent must be registered as a trademark agent, which requires meeting specific criteria laid out in the second part of Section 51, including residing in Ethiopia.

Previous filings in a Paris Convention member-country can be beneficial for Ethiopian filings. (Section 13.)  Ethiopia is not a member of the Madrid System, AIRPO or OAPI.

Further Information

NJQ & Associates has a nice outline of the key points in the new law in their February newsletter.  And the Ethiopian Law Blog outlines the kinds of marks that are admissible under the current law.  Spoor & Fisher has identified a few areas of the law and implementing regulations that may need further clarification.

Afro Ng'ombe

Afro Ng'ombe

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