The Protection of Intellectual Property Rights/ Patent in Ethiopia
Ethiopia has an established Intellectual property protection legal system. The country is also member of the World Intellectual Property Organization. One aspect of protection intellectual property right is patent. Patent is intended to protect originality and creativity of a person or a company. Patent title is granted to inventions. Minor inventions and industrial designs are also protected through utility model certificate and registration.
A Proclamation concerning Inventions, Minor inventions and Industrial Designs, Proclamation No. 123/1995 (Download)
Patent is the title granted to protect invention relating to a product or a process. An invention is patentable if it is new, involves an inventive step which is not obvious and capable of industrially application.
Inventions contrary to public order or morality; plant or animal varieties or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals; schemes, rules or methods for playing games or performing commercial and industrial activities and computer programmes; discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods; methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy, as well as diagnostic methods practiced on the human or animal body works are not patentable.
Patentees have the exclusive right to make, use or otherwise exploit the patented invention. A third party cannot exploit the patented invention without securing the patentee’s consent. But, the patentee does not have import monopoly right over the product of the patented invention.
Foreign nationals, subject to the principle of reciprocity or in accordance with any treaty that Ethiopia is party to, have the same rights and obligations as Ethiopians.
Invention which have not been patented in Ethiopia, but patented in a foreign country and not expired are granted patent of introduction upon application.
A Foreign applicant can claim a right of priority where he files his application in Ethiopia within twelve months from the date on which he first filed in a foreign country.
The patentee has a course of action against infringements. Court proceedings can be instituted against any person, who infringes the patent by performing any of the acts granted by the patent title without his consent.
Application for registration
In order to acquire rights granted by the patent title and be binding on third parties, application must be filled to the Ethiopia Intellectual Property Office. The application should be made in writing and include a description of the invention and clearly define the matter for which protection is sought.
Other requirements are:
Specification, claims and abstract in English
International Patent Classification
Formal drawings, if applicable
Certificate of Incorporation
Priority document with verified English translation
Power of Attorney
A patent is granted for an initial period of fifteen years. However, the validity of the patent may be extended for a further period of five years if it is proved that the invention is being properly working in Ethiopia. A patent of introduction is valid for a period that may extend up to ten years. In order to maintain the patent, an annual fee is paid in advance each year.
Some of the limitations on the right of a patentee include acts done for non-commercial purposes and the use of patented invention for the purposes of scientific research & experimentation. With payment of an equitable compensation to the patentee, where public interest demands, the Office can decide the exploitation of the invention.