The revised IP Law of OAPI known as the Bangui Accord has recently been made available to the public for the first time. However, it has yet to enter into force, as it requires ratification by 12 member states before it can be promulgated, and so far, only 7 member states have done so.

The changes introduced by the new law include the following:-

Trade Marks

  1. The definition of a trade mark will be broadened to include sounds.
  2. Substantive examination on absolute grounds will be conducted for the first time.
  3. Certification marks will be registerable.
  4. Applications will be published for opposition purposes before, rather than after, registration. The opposition term will be reduced from 6 to 3 months, and the term for filing an appeal against opposition decisions will be reduced from 3 to 2 months.
  5. Divisional applications will be possible.
  6. There is provision in the law for the recognition of International Registrations. OAPI joined the Madrid Protocol in 2015 and has been accepting International Registrations in practice, but the new law gives a legal basis for doing so. International Registrations will be effective in the OAPI member states that are also members of the Madrid Protocol.
  7. It will be possible to include goods and service classes in the same application.
  8. It will be possible to file prior (unregistered) rights claims before a court of law after registration. Presently, such claims can only be filed at OAPI in the opposition period following publication.

Patents

  1. The publication of applications for opposition purposes has been introduced.  Currently publication takes place after registration and there is no provision for opposition. The opposition period is 3 months.
  2. It appears that substantive examination will be conducted by OAPI for the first time, although we are not sure how this will evolve in practice.
  3. Pharmaceutical product claims will be enforceable until 1 January 2033 in territories classed by OAPI as "less developed".
  4. There is also a new provision for  making a "prior right claim" to challenge an applicant who does not have the right to make the application.

We are monitoring the situation very closely, and will post further information as and when it becomes available.