The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) of the People’s Republic of China signed a new Memorandum of Understanding at the ARIPO headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe on 30 March 2017.
The Honorable Minister of SAIC, Mr. Zhang Mao, and the Director General of ARIPO, Mr. Fernando dos Santos signed the MoU on behalf of the respective parties. The new MoU abrogates two previous MoUs signed between the two Parties on 31 March 2011 and 8 September 2014 respectively.
This MoU establishes a general framework for bilateral cooperation between ARIPO and SAIC on activities aimed at improving the quality of administration and effectiveness of the trademark systems through the exchange of information and best practices, as well as through capacity-building activities.
The objective is to streamline the trademark application process and deal with protection issues of well-known trademarks and geographical indications.
ARIPO and SAIC have agreed to work on initiatives to promote awareness and encourage the use and understanding of the IP system relating to trademarks in each’s respective territory. In that regard, they shall develop and institute capacity-building activities, such as comparative research studies, workshops, training on examination, opposition and dispute resolution as well as on IT.
With regard to having geographical indications stimulate economic development, the Parties will increase efforts to promote value addition of agricultural products, and facilitating rural economic development by the registration and protection of trademarks and GIs for agricultural products thereby enriching farmers.
The Parties will meet annually to evaluate the cooperation activities for the year and establish the cooperation plan for the following year.
For ARIPO, the MoU is timely in that, while China is increasingly becoming the single largest investor in the region, there is very little IP rights protection being sought by those Chinese investors in the same region.