Designers from all OAPI Countries to Benefit from Fee Reductions

Geneva, September 29, 2008

Designers from the sixteen member states of the African Intellectual Property Organization (known by its French acronym OAPI - Organisation africaine de la propriété intellectuelle) will, from January 1, 2009, benefit from a 90% reduction in fees prescribed under the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs, an international treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that helps designers acquire protection for their designs in multiple countries. This decision was taken by WIPO member states who are meeting in Geneva from September 22 to 30, 2008 on the occasion of their annual Assemblies. 

Following its decision in 2007 to recognize applicants from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) a 90% reduction in the prescribed fees, the Hague Union Assembly agreed last week to extend this fee reduction scheme to certain intergovernmental organizations, the majority of whose member states are LDCs. The fee reduction is intended to improve the ability of design creators from LDCs to benefit from the Hague system by reducing the costs of filing design applications under the system.
OAPI’s accession to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs became effective on September 16, 2008. OAPI comprises 16 member states of which 12 are LDCs. These 12 countries automatically qualify for the Hague fee reduction scheme for LDCs while the four remaining OAPI members (Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon) would not normally do so. OAPI’s accession to the 1999 Geneva Act means that nationals from all member states of OAPI are entitled to file international applications under that Act. With a view to preserving the underlying principle of uniformity, members of the Hague Union Assembly agreed to amend the current schedule of fees under the 1999 Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement and to extend the Hague fee reduction scheme for LDCs to applicants from all member states of OAPI, whether LDC or not. Thus, applicants from Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon will now benefit from this new scheme to the extent that their international application is governed exclusively by the 1999 Geneva Act.
An international registration submitted under the Hague System will have effect in as many members as identified in the application for registration, except those that refuse protection within the required time-limit. 
OAPI’s accession to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement offers applicants in its 16 member countries the opportunity to extend the protection of their creations of form abroad in a streamlined and cost-effective manner. It further creates an interface between WIPO’s international industrial design operations and those of OAPI allowing users to obtain protection in all OAPI countries as well as the other members of the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement by filing one single application for the registration of their industrial designs. OAPI member states include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
Under the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement, intergovernmental organizations with an office in which protection for industrial designs can be obtained for the territories of such an organization are able to join the Hague system. OAPI is the second inter-governmental organization to have acceded. The EC acceded to the Geneva Act last January. The Hague System has a total number of 53 contracting parties covering 72 states. The Geneva Act has effect in 32 of these contracting parties covering 63 states.
The Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement enhances the Hague system by making it more compatible with the procedures for the registration of industrial designs in countries where protection of industrial designs is sometimes contingent on a more complex examination to determine the acceptability of an application, so as to allow these countries, such as the United States and Japan, to accede to the Hague System.
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