Algeria: trade marks in Africa - at a glance
Trade mark activity is growing rapidly in Africa, both as regards protection and enforcement. Yet there is still a great deal of uncertainty. This is the next in our series of country-specific updates. Here we focus on Algeria.
Algeria is a massive country, the largest in Africa and the 10th largest in the world. The Sahara desert does, of course, account for much of Algeria’s territory, and most of the country’s 36 million people live on the Mediterranean coast. As a former French colony, French is still widely spoken, together with Arabic and Berber. The country has had the same leader since 1999.
Algeria’s economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas, but it does include other sectors too such as light industry and mining. The country is reliant on imports and its main import partners are France, China, Spain, Italy and Germany. GDP is US$156 billion and growth is in the 3.5% range.
The legislation that governs trade marks is Order 03-06 of 2003. As for international arrangements, Algeria is a member of the Paris Union and the Madrid Protocol.
Anyone claiming to be the owner can file a trade mark application. Algeria has a first- to-file system.
It is possible to register ordinary trade marks (including service marks) and collective marks.
The law says that a trade mark can be any symbol that can be graphically represented and that is capable of distinguishing the products or services of one company from those of another. There is specific mention of words, names, letters, figures, drawings, images and shapes of products or their packaging.
A trade mark application can be refused if: it is generic, non-distinctive or a functional shape; it offends morality, misleads the public as to origin, or causes confusion with marks that are well known; it is confusingly similar to a trade mark already registered for the same or similar goods.
The owner of a trade mark registration can sue for infringement and urgent proceedings are possible.
There are certain defences such as genuine commercial use of a company name, address or pseudonym, as well as honest descriptive use.
Trade mark infringement is a criminal offence, with fines and imprisonment being possible.
Trade marks can be registered with the customs authorities.
The International Classification of Goods and Services applies, and one application can cover multiple classes. It is possible to claim priority and a verified French translation of the priority document will be required. A Power of Attorney is required, but in this case mere signature will suffice.
There is examination but there is no opposition procedure. It is, however, possible to apply for rectification (cancellation) of registrations that were registered without sufficient cause or that wrongly remain on the register.
The registration term is 10 years, as is the renewal term. A registration can be cancelled in the case of non-use for a continuous period of three years or longer. Use by a licensee is sufficient.