ARIPO/Zimbabwe Patents

We advise on ARIPO and Zimbabwe patents in respect of the following matters:


Freedom to operate searches


Status searches


Preparation of patent applications, filing and prosecution of the applications to grant of Letters Patent


Renewals – i.e. payment of annuity fees


Assignments and other proprietor change recordals including changes of name, address and legal status.


Pre-grant amendment services, including amendment of claims and other documents and amendment of proprietor details


Post-grant limitation amendments                             


Utility models (petty patents) are registrable in ARIPO only. There is no national law in Zimbabwe which provides for the registration of utility models

Although it is possible to secure patent protection for Zimbabwe through the Zimbabwe Intellectual Property Office (ZIPO), we recommend registering patents through the ARIPO regional route for two main reasons:

1) ARIPO patent applications undergo substantive examination and require absolute novelty. We consider that these factors lead to the acquisition of stable rights after grant of patent rights. In contrast, ZIPO operates a patent deposit system of registration that is based on relative novelty. We consider that this registration system entails a high risk of post-registration cancellation actions.

2) The ARIPO patent system under the current Harare Protocol allows an applicant to designate any one or all of the current 18 ARIPO designable states. We regard this as more cost-effective and as an administratively simpler way of securing multi-jurisdictional patent protection. In contrast, ZIPO enables an applicant to secure patent registration in Zimbabwe only. This presents a limited option to an applicant wishing to secure multi-jurisdictional patent protection.  


Only 18 out of ARIPO’s current 19 Member States are designable in an ARIPO patent application. This is because Somalia which is the 19th Member State is not presently subscribed to either ARIPO’s Harare Protocol on patents and industrial designs, or to the Banjul Protocol which forms the basis of ARIPO’s trade mark system.

They are:

Botswana, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Sudan (North and South), The Kindom of eSwatini (formely Swaziland), Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe (18 States)

ARIPO is constantly seeking to increase the number of states that accede to its Harare Protocol and thereby growing the number of designable states that are available to patent applicants. 

ARIPO’s consistent response to this question over the years is that since the United Republic of Tanzania deposited the instrument of accession to the Harare Protocol on 1 September 1999, an ARIPO patent desination therefore covers both the Mainland and Zanzibar. However, some disquiet continues to be expressed as to the veritable nature of this position in practice. We recommend checking the position with reputable patent agents when in doubt. 

Although there are significant complementarities between ARIPO and OAPI, they are different organizations and their patent systems are different. OAPI services most of Francophone Africa. An OAPI patent registration covers all OAPI Member States. In contrast, ARIPO comprises mainly Anglophone African states. An ARIPO patent registration extends to the only those of its current 18 active Member States that the registration specifically designates.

Post-grant amendments are permissible in ARIPO provided that they do not increase the scope of the registered patent. Post-grant amendments are therefore limiting and never expansive in scope.

It is possible to renew an ARIPO patent application or registration through an alternate agent whilst retaining the filing agent as an agent that is responsible for the prosecution of the application until the grant of registration. In that event, ARIPO issues the patent renewal certificate to the agent that would have paid the renewal fees. It is not mandatory for the agent that attends to a renewal to apply for a recordal of a change of address for service unless such agent assumes such other greater responsibility as to warrant such a recordal.

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Samuriwo Attorneys is a vibrant and client-oriented boutique law firm. We offer cost-effective and practical advice to clients in trade mark and other intellectual property matters.