The Intellectual Property Office was established in 2003. Intellectual property legislation in Ethiopia includes the Patent Proclamation and Implementing Regulations issued in 1995. It covers Patents, Utility Models and industrial designs. The legislation embraces the Trademarks Registration Directive issued in 1986 and Copyright and Related Rights Proclamation issued in 2004. The Intellectual property Office is composed of six directorates which are: the Patent Directorate, the Trademark Directorate, the Copyright Directorate, the Information and Documentation Directorate, the Law, Policy and Plan Directorate, and The Administration and Finance Directorate. Ethiopia has ratified the WIPO Convention since February 19, 1998, and is a signatory of Nairobi Treaty [Olympic Symbol] since September 25 1982. The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office understands that existing legislation needs to be amended to bring in conformity with the TRIPS Agreement. The enforcement of the TRIPS provisions are facing a number of challenges, including, among other things, lack of resource allocation, lack of institutional capacity and lack of comprehension of IPR matters.
Validity term is 15 years which may be extended for a further period of five years. However, validity for industrial designs is for five years which may be extended for two further periods five years each. Ethiopia recognizes what is termed as patent of introduction. In other countries it is termed as patent of importation. An importation patent is a foreign basic patent of a foreign patent owner, which has been granted upon going over all requirements of patentability. It will be valid for the outstanding life of the foreign patent. Annuity has to be paid each year on the anniversary of the Ethiopian application. The patent of importation allows the patent owner to completely use, produce and sell the subject matter of the patent of importation, however, the proprietor may not be entitled to exclude the import of the invention by a third party. The validity term of the patent of importation is linked with the duration of the basic patent; however the Ethiopian patent Proclamation provides that it will not be longer than ten years after the filing with the Ethiopian Patent Office. The main document required with the application is the patent certificate duly certified by the patent office of the country in which the basic patent is given and if appropriate a document confirming validity of the basic patent
Formal filing requirements for a patent are as follows:
The International Classification of goods is adopted. Applications may include any number of goods and/or services, provided however, that home registration certificate must be submitted. The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office will conduct a search as regards conflicting marks. A cautionary notice must be published in one of the local newspapers in both the English language and Amharic language. Validity term is for six years; however it is renewable on the basis of a cautionary notice to be published every two years.
Formal filing requirements
Note: protection is granted after publication of a cautionary notice.
The copyright law provides protection, among other things, for written works, phonographs and cinematographic films, theatre and musical pieces, television and radio works for publication, paintings, sculpture and architecture, maps and speeches. The Copyright and Related Rights Proclamation considers software as a literary work and as such a fifty years protection is provided. Protection under the copyright law ends fifty years after the death of the author, it ends fifty years for the right of performers and producers of sound recordings, and it ends 20 years for the right of broadcasting organizations. The author has exclusive wide latitude to commercially utilize his work within the bounds prescribed by law. Again, he has the right to maintain his copyrighted works by means of infringement actions to deter others from encroachment as to his rights. He may trigger a criminal action or a civil action as the facts of the infringement act warrant.