Zimbabwe: Clarity on Madrid Protocol
As many brand owners are aware, Zimbabwe joined the Madrid Protocol with effect from 11 March 2015. Zimbabwe did, however, not amend its domestic law to give effect to the Madrid Protocol, something that British law (common law) countries like Zimbabwe need to do. There were, therefore, real doubts about the validity of Zimbabwe’s accession, and the legality of International Registrations (IRs) designating Zimbabwe.
These doubts have now been removed by the Trade Marks (Madrid Protocol) Regulations 2017, which were both published and became operational on 13 April 2017. It is now quite clear that an IR can lawfully designate Zimbabwe.
It is also clear that the opposition term to a Zimbabwean designation of an IR will run for a period of two months from the date of publication in the Zimbabwe Industrial Property Journal.
We should point out that it is unclear at this stage whether the Registry will be able to meet the 18-month examination term imposed by the Madrid Protocol. Although the Registry is examining national applications quite quickly, there are serious staff shortages and worrying delays in other aspects of trade mark practice. It may well depend on the volume of IRs designating Zimbabwe.
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