Ghana: trade marks in Africa – your questions answered

Trade mark activity is growing rapidly in Africa, both as regards protection and enforcement. Yet there is still a great deal of uncertainty. This is the third in our series of country-specific updates. Here we focus on Ghana.

Why?

Ghana has a population of 28 million, a GDP of some US$42billion (and one of the highest GDP per capita in West Africa), and a relatively sophisticated economy that includes the manufacturing and exportation of digital technology goods, automotive and ship construction and export, and the exportation of hydrocarbons and industrial minerals. As for Ghanaian trade mark law, that has been amended quite recently to take account of international developments and the problem of counterfeiting.

Who?

An applicant for registration must have a bona fide intention to use the trade mark.

What?

According to the applicable legislation, the Trademarks Act of 2004, as amended by the Trademarks (Amendment) Act of 2014, a sign or combination of signs capable of distinguishing can be registered. There is specific reference to designs, colours, shapes and holograms. There is also a reference to slogans, with the interesting limitation that to be registrable the slogan cannot be long enough to be protected by copyright. The law makes provision for the registration of certification marks and collective marks, and there is protection for well-known marks.

The usual grounds of refusal exist. When it comes to shapes, there is provision that any shape that ‘constitutes the nature of the goods’ or is ‘technically necessary’ will be refused.

The law is pretty draconian, with a wide range of activities that would generally fall within the scope of trade mark infringement now also being criminal offences, provided that they were committed ‘for the purpose of gain’ or ‘with intent to cause loss’ . Anyone charged with an offence relating to the following industries will not even be entitled to bail: food, drugs, medical devices, household chemicals, cosmetics, vehicle and machine parts, and electrical appliances.

How?

There is no online filing, a Power of Attorney is needed but no notarisation is required, priority can be claimed, and the Nice Classification applies. There is full examination and an application is published and open to third-party opposition, with appeals going to the High Court. Ghana is a member of the Madrid Protocol.

When?

The registration term is 10 years, as is the renewal term, with a six-month grace period for late renewal. The non-use term is five years.

Date published: 26 July 2017
Author: Spoor & Fisher

Tags: Ghana trade marks