We write further to our previous articles on this website concerning the promulgation of the Industrial Property Regulations in Zanzibar.  

 

We have been liaising with our associate there following our concern that as the Patent Regulations are considered to have come into force retroactively on 13 September 2008, it now appears that any reregistration applications filed on or after that date are vulnerable to challenge by third parties on the grounds that they were filed ultra vires

 

Our associate has once again discussed this matter with the Registrar, but regrettably, the Registrar has refused to issue a written decision regarding the validity (or otherwise) of these reregistration applications.  However, during the discussions, the Registrar pointed out that any law is open to different interpretation and, whilst he believes that these cases were validly registered because the law should not be construed to the effect of creating a legal vacuum, the power to provide an authoritative interpretation of any law lies with the judiciary and not with him.

 

There unfortunately appears to be nothing else we can do to persuade the Registrar on this matter.  However, regardless of the position of the Registrar or any different interpretation which may be accorded to the law, we are of the view that all reregistration applications filed after the commencement of the new law in 2008 will not pass the requisite absolute novelty test under the law and as such, they were not properly registered.

 

In view of the above, we regret that many of our clients’ patent applications, which we filed in good faith on the understanding that the new law was not in force at that time, now appear to be invalid.  We find the lack of transitional provisions in the new Regulations, and so the consequential implications of the deemed retroactive implementation of the current law, to be totally unacceptable and extremely frustrating.  However, we regret that this situation is beyond our control. 

 

We are writing to any clients affected by the above interpretation of the law, regarding any cases on our records that we now believe to be invalid.  

 

Regarding the new requirement to pay annuities on any patent cases which were validly filed under the previous or current laws, we would reiterate that these fees should be paid as soon as possible so as to ensure that these patents are kept in force.  Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require any assistance with these annuity payments.