The Trade Marks Act 2004 entered into force in Ghana on 29 January 2004.

This modernised the law in a number of respects, introducing the Nice Classification, service marks, and a ten year renewal term, replacing the previous regime of an initial term of seven years and a fourteen year renewal term.

However, we have recently discovered that the new renewal term only applies to trade marks filed on or after 29 January 2004. Registrations obtained before the new law entered into force are still subject to the old regime of seven and fourteen years. We believe that this is due to clumsily phrased transitional provisions in the new Act.

Whilst the new Act repeals the former law and states that trade marks registered under the old law "shall remain in force´┐Żand shall be deemed to have been registered under this Act", Section 53(4) of the 2004 Act states that trade marks registered under the old law "shall be due for renewal for a period of fourteen years from the date of expiration of the original registration or of the last renewal of the registration and upon renewal shall be reclassified in accordance with the International Classification". Unfortunately, the Act does not explicitly state that upon renewal, the renewal term under the 2004 Act will apply.

Our local advisers agree that this situation is most unfortunate and that it would not have been the intention of the legislators to create the two-tier system currently applied by the Registry. The matter has been referred to the Registrar-General, the Attorney General and the Head of the Legislative Drafting Team at the Ministry of Justice, and it is hoped that the matter can be resolved soon.