In order to trade your products and services in African countries, it is advised that you register for trademark protection in those specific countries you are going to trade with. By registering your trademark, you show that your mark has priority through the register. A registered trademark will be easier to defend than to prove authenticity when you use an un-registered trademark. Passing off is not easy to demonstrate under common law and it would thus be beneficial to take the steps for registration sooner rather than later. Your registered trademark shows that you are serious about your brand. Competitors will think twice before infringing on your trademark rights, but may not even consider the consequences of such if you have not registered the trademark.

Trademark Assignments

Trademark protection may be assigned, which in turn assures that the money spent on registration and maintenance fees can be seen as an investment. If you sell your business you can assign the trademark to the next owner. A trademark assignment is a transfer of owner’s rights, title and interest in a trademark. The transferring party assigns the trademark to the receiving party. An assignment differs from a license, which is the grant of permission to use a mark in some manner but does not transfer any property rights in the mark.


A centralised system of protection of intellectual property characterised by a uniform legislation applicable in each member state. OAPI is a member of the International Convention and PCT. As long as a trademark is renewed and used in trade, it can last forever. A registered trademark is renewable every 10 years.
OAPI Contracting States: Benin · Burkina Faso · Cameroon · Central African Republic · Chad · Congo · Côte d’Ivoire · Gabon · Guinea · Guinea-Bissau · Equatorial Guinea · Mali · Mauritania · Niger · Senegal · Togo.


Membership is open to States which are members of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) or of the African Union (AU). As long as a registered trademark is renewed and used in trade, it can last forever. Trademark protection is renewable every 10 years.
Banjul Protocol Contracting States: Botswana · Lesotho · Liberia · Malawi · Namibia · Sierra Leone · Sudan · Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) · Tanzania · Uganda · Zambia · Zimbabwe