New IP Act in Liberia clarifies effectiveness of international treaties to some extent
The long awaited Intellectual Property Act, 2014 was approved by Liberia’s House of Representatives on 14 June 2016 and published on 22 July 2016. The Acting Director General of the Liberia Industrial Property Office has also confirmed that accompanying regulations will now be drafted, following the signing into law of the new Act.
The new Act repeals the Industrial Property Act of 2003 in its entirety. The 2003 Act was implemented by the Industrial Property Office under a previous executive decision, although its effectiveness regarding international treaties such as the Paris Convention, Madrid Agreement, Madrid Protocol and Banjul Protocol (ARIPO), was unclear.
The new Act deals explicitly with the applicability of the Paris Convention, the Madrid Agreement, the Harare Protocol and the Banjul Protocol. However, although the Banjul Protocol is defined in the definitions section, no further reference is made to the Protocol in the Act. It is therefore still unclear whether the Banjul Protocol has effectively been domesticated in Liberia.
One interesting feature of the Act is that it deals extensively with geographic indications, including the scope of and the exclusion from protection. It also sets out the requirements for filing an application for the registration of a geographical indication.
The Act also deals with the protection of copyright, trade marks, industrial designs, patents, utility models and layout-designs of integrated circuits. Although the Act may not be perfect, it is a step in the right direction.
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