Ghana and the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI) have recently acceded to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement, with the result that the Hague Agreement will enter into force for both Ghana and OAPI on 16 September 2008.
The Hague Agreement is an international registration system for industrial designs. This agreement provides for the protection of industrial designs in several countries and organisations by means of a single international design application, filed with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland. The design application must designate the countries in which the applicant wishes to secure design protection. In other words, a single international design application may be filed designating several countries instead of having to file separate national applications in each country.
An international design registration has, in each designated country, the same effect as if the design had been registered in the country concerned and is subject to the relevant national law. The designated countries retain the right to exclude from protection any designs that do not qualify for protection under their national laws.
In terms of the Hague Agreement, multiple designs may be included in a single design application but all products relating to the design must fall in the same class under the Locarno classification. Revocation proceedings may be brought against a registered design on the grounds that it does not qualify for protection in terms of the national law of any of the designated countries.
There are presently 49 countries and two organisations (OAPI and the European Union) that are contracting parties to the Hague Agreement. It is noteworthy that of the 51 contracting parties, 13 are from Africa. If one designates all possible African contracting parties in an international design application, one ends up with a total of 22 African countries covered by the design application.
The African countries and regional organisation that have already acceded, or are acceding to the Hague Agreement include:
Benin (member of OAPI)
Gabon (member of OAPI)
Ivory Coast (member of OAPI)
Mali (member of OAPI)
Niger (member of OAPI)
Senegal (member of OAPI)
OAPI which currently has 16 member countries, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
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