The inovia agent network is growing! We recently announced the addition of Egypt to our network, bringing the total country count in our network to 85. We’ve now expanded our network even further to include the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) and Nigeria, raising the total country count covered by our agent network to 102.
Spoor & Fisher, our agent currently handling filings in South Africa and ARIPO, will now handle PCT national stage entry in OAPI and Nigeria for our clients. Visit our agents page to learn more about Spoor & Fisher.
Craig Kahn and Margaret Le Galle, attorneys at Spoor & Fisher, have shared some valuable information regarding these filing destinations:
OAPI provides a single system for the registration and maintenance of IP for its Member States, which are situated in West and Central Africa. OAPI’s history dates back to 1962, when a central office for filing for patent protection in the former French colonies in Africa was created. The office was then called the “Office Africain et Malagache de la Propriete Industrielle” (OAMPI). A new accord named the Bangui Agreement was adopted in 1977 and the Office changed its name to “Organization Africaine de la Propriete Intellectuelle” (OAPI). The English version of its official name is African Intellectual Property Office, which is not to be confused with the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO).
OAPI is a member of the Paris Convention and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). An increasing number of businesses are choosing to protect their patent rights in the OAPI region, which covers 16 countries with a combined population in excess of 155 million. A single patent registration at the Organization’s directorate in Yaoundé, Cameroon, automatically confers protection in all Member States (it is not possible to designate individual member states). The 16 current Member States of OAPI are:
- Central African Republic
- Congo (Republic of)
- Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea Bissau
- Ivory Coast
For applicants looking to enter the national stage in OAPI, the deadline is 30 months from the application’s priority date.
Nigeria is a member of both the Paris Convention and the PCT, which it joined in 2005. For PCT national stage entry filings, the deadline is 30 months from the application’s priority date.
Nigeria alone has a population of 155 million and a GDP of $462.9 billion. The country’s key industries center on agriculture and crude oil, with top exports being petroleum and petroleum products, cocoa and rubber. The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) lists among the top ten reasons to invest in Nigeria the country’s abundant resources (mineral, agricultural, human), skilled and low cost labor, and infrastructure.
Why file in Africa?
In an article that Craig Kahn and I wrote for Intellectual Asset Management last year, we discussed the vast transformation that the African patent system has undergone over the years. Africa also offers enormous economic potential that applicants cannot ignore when considering their international patent filing strategies.
In 2011, The Economist and IMF released statistics showing that from 2001 to 2010, six of the top ten fastest growing economies were African countries, and projected that from 2011 to 2015, seven African countries would make the top ten list, with Nigeria featured in both time periods. While China is the top country on the projected growth list, the combined potential of the African countries on the list exceeds that of Asia.
So while China may have been our clients’ top national stage entry destination for 2011, we may see these new African destinations appear in the ranks in the coming years.
Are you considering filing into Africa?