The United Republic of Tanzania comprises mainland Tanganyika and the island of Zanzibar.  Historically, the rights afforded by patents granted under the United Republic of Tanzania Patents Act of 1987 have not extended to Zanzibar.  Legislation for the United Republic of Tanzania applies to Zanzibar only if that law specifically states that it extends to Zanzibar or if Zanzibar specifically ratifies it.  The Tanzania Patents Act 1987 does not specifically state that it extends to Zanzibar, nor has the island ratified it.  Accordingly, any patent granted in the United Republic of Tanzania is enforceable only in mainland Tanganyika, and independent registration systems are therefore in operation for mainland Tanganyika and Zanzibar. 


The Zanzibar government is responsible for all matters which are non-Union matters.  Therefore the Zanzibar parliament may only legislate on non-Union matters.  On the other hand, the government of the United Republic of Tanzania has been given the mandate to cater for Tanganyika’s governance and legislation. 


Zanzibar does not, under the constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, have the capacity to enter into international agreements on its own.  International relations are specified as Union matters under the constitution of the United Republic, which means that in such international relations, the Zanzibar government has no mandate and is bound by the actions of the Union government.  When it comes to IP matters, however, these are not specified in the list of Union matters, which means that the Zanzibar government and parliament have the mandate to legislate and enforce their own laws in that area.   Nevertheless, the generally agreed opinion among many practitioners is that, even though IP-related matters are not among the specified Union matters, Zanzibar is bound by all IP-related treaties and agreements which the Union government has engaged in (including international ones, such as the PCT), but the passing of implementing legislation relating to those agreements falls under the mandate of the Zanzibar parliament and government.


Tanzania acceded to the PCT in 1999, as a United Republic, which includes both Tanganyika and Zanzibar.  Whilst we believe that the whole of United Republic of Tanzania was bound by the Treaty from the moment of its accession, international treaties are not automatically enforceable as a law in the two countries of the Union until they have been ratified by the separate parliaments in Tanganyika and Zanzibar, through the passing of local legislation.  Therefore, because IP matters are not Union matters, necessarily each territory had to pass its own laws to give recognition to PCT designations.   Tanganyika already had their Patents Act, 1987 which provided for the implementation of the PCT, but Zanzibar did not at that time have the necessary local legislation.  In practical terms, this meant that the PCT system did not apply to Zanzibar and could not be enforced in any way there because of the lack of the local legislation.


The Industrial Property Act, 2008 was passed by the parliament of Zanzibar on 31 March 2008.  The date of promulgation of the new law was considered to be 13 September 2008.  Therefore, before the passing of this Act, PCT applications were not possible in Zanzibar because there was no local implementing legislation.  Theoretically, whilst Zanzibar was bound by this agreement, there was no law to put it into practice.   Then, with the coming into force of the 2008 Act, this became possible in Zanzibar.


Before the implementation of the 2008 Act in Zanzibar, a designation of the United Republic of Tanzania (TZ) in a PCT application was only sent to the Tanzanian Registry, which covers mainland Tanganyika only.  Therefore, this designation only covered mainland Tanganyika.  However, since the passing of the 2008 Act in Zanzibar, it is generally agreed that an international application designating Tanzania now automatically includes Zanzibar as well.   Therefore, it is generally considered that it is necessary to enter the national phase in both Tanganyika and Zanzibar, separately, if patent rights are required in both countries of the Union.  Please bear this in mind when considering the jurisdictions in which to enter the national/regional phase of your PCT applications.


Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require any clarification of the above matters.