MEMBER STATES: ARIPO is a community of 18 Former English Colonies which are also English speaking Countries.




ARIPO was created by the Lusaka Agreement and is headquartered at Harare Zimbabwe. Additional legal instruments were adopted to enable the organisation to perform specific functions on behalf of the member states in the field of Intellectual Property. One such legal instrument within the Framework of the African Regional Industrial Property Organization is:


The Harare Protocol on Patent and Industrial Designs.

African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation known more commonly by its acronym (ARIPO) was established through the Lusaka Agreement ARIPO is a treaty for the registration of patents by way of a single application in the African Region mostly English speaking Countries with the intent of harmonising laws and easing registrations related to Intellectual Property amongst these member countries to ARIPO.

However, understanding the functioning of ARIPO to a great extent helps in choosing one’s options in protecting IPR of which patents form an important element of a business undertaking.

Pooling of resources along with the avoidance of duplicity and multiplicity of financial and human resources was the predominant reason for establishing ARIPO.

The Preamble to the Lusaka Agreement therefore, sets forth awareness among member states about the emergent advantages from effective and continuous exchange of information, harmonisation and co-ordination of their laws and activities in industrial property maters. The same interest and awareness was the reason behind establishing ARIPO, aimed at the study and promotion of and co-operation in industrial property matters, amongst contracting States.


The Harare Protocol

The Harare Protocol was adopted by ARIPO on December 1982 and it came into force on 1984 with the following member states as contracting parties:

Botswana, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe (Total: 17 states).

The Protocol empowers the ARIPO Office to receive and process patent and industrial design applications on behalf of states party to the Protocol. The protocol enables registration of patents and industrial designs by filing one single application either directly at the ARIPO office or at any one of the industrial property offices of the Contracting States with the applicant choosing and designating his choice of Contracting State where the industrial designs and patents are sought to be protected.

Patents: upon receipt of a patent application, following procedures are conducted by the ARIPO office:

  • Formalities check
  • Substantive examination

Application in compliance with all the substantive requirements of:

  • being new
  • involves an inventive step
  • capable of being industrially applied

Is transmitted to the industrial property offices of the designated contracting States who then within 6 months from the date of receipt of the application from the ARIPO office intimate non-effect of the patent in its territory in the event ARIPO proceeds to grant the patent.

However, substantive examination of patent applications by ARIPO enhances registrability as its presumption of validity is sufficiently raised.

Industrial Designs: upon receipt of an industrial designs application, following procedures are conducted by the ARIPO office:

  • Only formalities check
  • No substantive examination

– Upon compliance and fulfilment of all the formalities requirements, ARIPO office registers the industrial designs which comes into effect in the designated states.

However, the designated states reserve their communication to the ARIPO office on bringing into effect the registered design in their territory within the stipulated time of 6 months – to be confirmed with ARIPO LAWYER

A link between the HARARE PROTOCOL & PCT was adopted on April 1994 which came into effect on July 1994 with the following implications:

  1. any applicant filing a PCT application may designate ARIPO which in turn means a designation of all states party to both the Harare Protocol and the PCT;
  2. the ARIPO Office shall act as a receiving office under the PCT for such states; and
  3. the ARIPO Office may be elected in any PCT application. The following countries are party to both the Harare Protocol and the PCT:

Botswana, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe (Total: 17 states).


The Harare Protocol is now inclusive of:

  • The Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Micro-organisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedures.
  • Implementation of Utility Models.
  • Choice of office for filing of applications.
  • Period of protection for patents, industrial designs and utility models.

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