Burundi - New Intellectual Property Legislation

We wish to report that a new Industrial Property Law has recently been enacted in Burundi, following its signature by the President of Burundi and publication on 28 July 2009. However, the implementing legislation which is required in order for the new law to be promulgated remains outstanding. The Industrial Property Director of Burundi has therefore decided to continue to apply the former IP legal framework until such time as the implementing regulations have been finalized and put in place. Nevertheless, as the new law repeals all previous IP laws, we are of the opinion that the new law became fully effective upon its signature by the President on 28 July 2009. Furthermore we believe that, even though the Industrial Property Director is continuing to accept patent and trade mark applications under the terms of the old law, the provisions of the new law nevertheless apply thereto.

Under the previous IP law, there was no provision for the renewal of trade marks. Whilst the new law introduces a renewable 10 year term, it is presently unclear as to whether trade marks registered under the old law will also need to be renewed. The new law also introduces a requirement for absolute novelty in respect of patent applications. Therefore, whilst it is likely that applications for patents of importation (i.e. those based on foreign granted patents) will still be accepted by the Director of Industrial Property until such time as the implementing regulations have been promulgated, any such applications filed since 28 July 2009 are of doubtful validity.

We also understand that a new law will shortly be implemented in Rwanda, which will come into force upon its publication and which will broadly correspond with the provisions of the new Burundi law. Similarly therefore, patents of importation will soon no longer be provided for in Rwanda, and we therefore recommend that any revalidation patent applications that you wish to file there are instructed as soon as possible to ensure that no rights are jeopardised.

All further developments will be reported promptly.

10th November 2009

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