The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) is a central filing system comprised of nineteen (19) Member States. The Members are:

Botswana, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe [officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe], Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. At present Somalia is an inactive member as the office for intellectual property is not operational until further notice. Although most of the members are from English speaking African States, membership is not limited on the basis of language, rather it is open to all African States who are members of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and/ or members of the Organization of African Unity.

The Harare and Banjul Protocols were passed by the membership of ARIPO. The Harare Protocol governs registration of patents, industrial designs and utility models while the Banjul is for trademarks.

The ARIPO filing system under these Protocols does not replace but rather coincides with the national system of each Member State which has acceded to and ratified the Protocols. Accordingly, owners have the option to select the national route or ARIPO for protection of their rights. Likewise, all Members are not required to join both Protocols. With respect to patents, all Member States have acceded to the Harare Protocol and with the exception of Somalia all have ratified the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). São Tomé and Príncipe becomes eligible for designation as a Member State under the Banjul Protocol. The accession of the Banjul Protocol by São Tomé and Príncipe brings the number of Member States party to the Protocol to ten (10): Botswana, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, São Tomé and Príncipe and Zimbabwe. For purpose of intellectual property protection, designation of Tanzania will not include Zanzibar which operates a separate office.

The headquarters for ARIPO is situated in Harare, Zimbabwe.

N.B. The above information has been extracted from the ARIPO Bulletin. For further details you may contact us or ARIPO website.