Ethiopia is a country located in the north-eastern part of Africa. It is bordered by South Sudan and the Sudan to the west, Eritrea to the north, Djibouti and Somalia to the east and Kenya to the south. Ethiopia's population of approximately 84 million makes it one of the largest markets in Africa. The major sources of Ethiopian imports are China, Saudi Arabia, India, UAE, Japan, Italy, Turkey, and United States.

Which Products are vulnerable?

Products from the countries of major sources of Ethiopian import, like China, Saudi Arabia, India, UAE, Japan, Italy, Turkey, and United States are vulnerable. So products which acquired reputation and acceptance in the market are the ones relatively under high exposure to counterfeit. Trademark infringers usually target these products to exploit their comparative market advantage and higher profit margin due to the cheap counterfeit products. So the usual approach of the trademark infringers is not producing it in Ethiopia; rather importing it from Asian countries like China, India…etc. Even famous brands of a Chinese/Indian company can be counterfeited by other trademark infringers from the same country and be imported in Ethiopia.

Although, well-known brand products are being imported and distributed in Ethiopia once these genuine products get acceptance and reputation, fake products with the same trademark/brand flood into the market in massive scale. For instances we can take the few examples of the American Energy Management Company (APC) claims of prevalence of counterfeit UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) products that carry APC’s Brand.

Globally, an owner of intellectual property rights like trademark, patent, industrial designs…etc shall take all the necessary safeguard means of protecting them. The same is true for Ethiopia. Especially these days given the effects business expansion due to globalization, and various developments in communication mechanisms, it seems vital to do so. Today, someone in another country using your patent could be as destructive as someone using it in your own town. So registering your patent at home country only will not save your patent from being vulnerable overseas.

As one alternative, this note will focus on the legal mechanism of protecting your patent rights in Ethiopia. It give you a brief idea about what is patent and patentable, how to patent it, where to get a patent in Ethiopia and other related issues.

What is patent and patentable invention?

The first issue that should be addresses before submitting a certain invention as patent is defining what patent. According to the Ethiopian patent act, i.e. a Proclamation Concerning Inventions, Minor Inventions and Industrial Designs Proclamation No. 123/1995, patent is an invention that is new, involves an inventive step and is industrially applicable, then it will be patentable.

A patent right shall belong to the inventor.  But if two or more persons have jointly made an invention the right to the patent shall belong to them jointly.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Trade is underway to provide trade name registrations and licenses. The currently applicable law requires Businesses in Ethiopia to register their names every year with in the first four months of the fiscal year. Failure to register will lead to the expiry of the certificate of registration. However, upon payment of penalty, businesses can renew their licenses all year long as of the first four months.

Since businesses are required to come up to the Ministry Of Trade to get their names registered and obtain licenses, the Ministry is underway to provide trade name registrations and licenses at all districts of Addis Ababa and regional states beginning July 7, 2013.

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Related notes

Note: This blog provides vital information on Ethiopian law and practice and is not intended to substitute professional advice given with full knowledge of the specific circumstances of each case and proficiency in the law of Ethiopia such as might be provided by an Ethiopian Attorney or any Ethiopian lawyer.

Do you give value to your brand and believe in protecting it? Here is our legal consultation as to why you need to register and protect your brand in Ethiopia.

Before the effect of globalization was deeply felt in the business sphere of the world, registering and protecting your trademark internationally was not a matter of life and death. Protecting your trademark at home would have sufficed. Today, however, someone in another country using your trademark could be as damaging as someone opening store with the same name as yours in your own town. So with the current trend of dynamic business expansion registering your trademark at home country only will not save your trademarks from being vulnerable overseas.

For instance in Ethiopia, unless a particular trademark is registered, the fact that the trademark is registered in other country or the fact of its being used before in another country does not give it any protection. In fact anyone submitting an ownership application over such trademark can get it registered and produce such product.

In Ethiopia well known brands of numerous products are being imported and distributed. However the more these genuine products dominate the market the more fake products with the same trademark/brand flood in to the market in a massive scale.