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Trademark Registration and its Protection under Ethiopian Legal System


     By Fikadu Asfaw and Associates Law Office

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According to Ethiopian Trade Mark Protection Proclamation no. 501/2006 Trademark can be defined as any visible sign capable of distinguishing goods or services of one person from those of other persons, it includes words designs, letters, numerals, colors or the shape of goods or their packaging or the combination of thereof.

According to Ethiopian Trade Mark Protection Proclamation no. 501/2006 Trademark can be defined as any visible sign capable of distinguishing goods or services of one person from those of other persons, it includes words designs, letters, numerals, colors or the shape of goods or their packaging or the combination of thereof.
Since Trademarks are directly associated with the images of a company they constitute one of most important assets of any business.

Registration of Trademark in Ethiopia
1. Requirements of Eligibility
Any trademark that is capable of clearly distinguishing goods or services of a person from those of other persons shall be eligible for registration. A trademark may be registered in black and white or color. A trademark, which is registered in black and white, shall be protected in al color combination, a trademark, which is registered in color, shall only be protected in the color combination in which it is registered.
2. In admissible trademarks under Ethiopian law

The following trademarks may not be admissible for registration,
1. A trademark which consists of sound or smell;
2. A trademark which is incapable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of other person,
3. A trademark that is contrary to public order/morality,
4. A trademark consisting exclusively of sings or indications which designated the kind quality quantity intended purpose, value, geographical origin of goods or services the time of production of the goods or rendering of the services, or other characteristics of the goods or services
5. A trademark that consists exclusively the surname of the applicant
6. A trademark that consists exclusively the full name of an individual without his consent.
7. Unless authorized by a competent authority, a trademark which is identical with or an imitation of or contains an armorial bearing flag or the emblem, a name or abbreviation or initials of the name of or official sign or hall mark adopted by any state, intergovernmental organization, or other organization created by international conventions
8. A trademark that is likely to mislead the public or the business community in particular as regards the geographical origin of the goods or services concerned, or therein nature or characteristics,
9. A trademark consisting exclusively of a shape which results from the nature of the good itself or that is necessary to obtain technical result of the good or that gives substantial value to the good

Requirements for Trade mark Registration in Ethiopia
Required documents for trade mark application in Ethiopia are,
1. Full name address and nationality of the applicant(s)
2. Home registration certificate certified up to Ethiopian consular level,
3. When the application for registration is filled through an agent, it shall be accompanied by a duly authenticated power of attorney certified up to Ethiopian consular level.
4. Three copies of reproduction of the trademark,
5. A list of goods & services classified in accordance with the international classification of goods & services for which registration of the mark is requested and the class numbers of the classification,
6. A document certifying payments of the filing fee
7. An application for registration shall cover only one trademark;
An application for registration shall cover only one trademark. However the application may contain a list of goods & services classified in accordance with The International Classification of Goods and Services 8th edition.
The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office makes examination as to form and substance to ensure that the trademark compiles with the provisions of the proclamation.

When the office finds that the trademark application is acceptable, it shall publish a notice of invitation for opposition regarding the registration of the trademark in the intellectual property gazelle or a news paper having a nationwide circulation of the cost of the applicant. This may further be supplemented by a radio or television broad cast or a website notice as seemed necessary. The period of publication is for 30 days. If no opposition is filed against the application or there is not office action against it the process may take 45-60 days to get a trade mark registration certificate from the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office.

Enforcement of trade mark Rights under Ethiopian law
Under the Ethiopian legal system the court, which has jurisdiction on trademark prosecution, is the federal high court. It shall order prompt and effective provisional measures to
1. Prevent an infringement of trade mark right from occurring in particular to prevent the entry into the channels of commerce of import and export goods after completing customs formalities or
2. Present relevant evidence in regard to an alleged infringement of a right
The court after hearing a case of infringement of a trademark owner’s right is entitled to
1. Pass an injunction to stop the defendant from continuing the act of infringement and
2. Order the defendant to compensate the damage inflicted to the claimant due to the infringement.

Criminal sanctions for trademark infringement
Whosoever intentionally violates a right protected under this proclamation shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment of a term of not less than 5 years and not more the layers Moreover, whosoever by negligence violated a right protected under this Proclamation shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment of a term not less than 1 year and not more than 5 years.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fikadu Asfaw
Fikadu Law Office is an Ethiopia law office providing advisory and litigation services to corporate and private clients in Ethiopia and throughout the world. Fikadu Law Offiice is licensed to practice throughout Ethiopia at all level of courts including Federal First Instance Court, Federal High Court, Federal Supreme Court, Cassation Court and any other similar legal tribunals.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.