On a recent telephone call, a company inquired as to whether inovia offers patent filing services for the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle or African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI). Although inovia currently only offers regional stage entry into ARIPO, I thought this would be a good opportunity to provide some information on this other major Intellectual Property organization.
OAPI was created by the Bangui Agreement on March 2, 1977, and is a member to both the Paris Convention and the PCT. It is headquartered in Yaounde, Cameroon, and consists of the Administrative Council, the High Commission of Appeal, and the Directorate General.
Its member states are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.
OAPI has jurisdiction over patents, utility models, trademarks, industrial designs, trade names, geographical indications, copyright, unfair competition, integrated circuit layouts, and plant variety rights.
There are several significant differences between OAPI and ARIPO. ARIPO covers mostly English-speaking countries in east Africa, while OAPI covers mostly French-speaking countries in west Africa.
Regional phase deadline for ARIPO is at the 31-month date, while the OAPI deadline is at the 30-month date. While both regions are growing, the interest we’ve received from our clients has almost exclusively been for ARIPO.
That said, we’re always seeking to expand our global network. Do you (or your clients) ever file in OAPI?