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Djibouti: 2009 Industrial Property Law Now in Force

(Sept. 18, 2012) It was reported on July 31, 2012, that <?Djibouti's new Industrial Property Law, adopted in 2009, had finally come into effect, on June 9, 2012, and that the country's Patent and Trademark Office had become operational and had started to accept new applications. The new law extends intellectual property protection to patents, industrial designs, and integrated circuits; previously, only trademarks were eligible for protection, by interested parties submitting a petition to the court. It also provides for service marks, trade names, geographical indications, and anti-unfair competition measures. (Djibouti – Implementation of the New IP Laws, NJQ & ASSOCIATES NEWSLETTER (July 31, 2012); New Industrial Property Law in Djibouti, Spoor Fisher website (Aug. 6, 2012).)

The trademarks available under the Law include, in addition to trade and service marks, collective marks and certification marks, but not associated marks or series of marks. “Signs suitable for graphic representation used to distinguish the goods or services of a person in trade,” and more specifically denominations such as words, patronymic and geographical names, letters, figures, and acronyms are registrable, as are figurative signs such as drawings, holograms, logos, and computer generated imagery. (New Industrial Property Law in Djibouti, supra.) Arrangements and combinations of colors are registrable, but not isolated colors “unconfined within a specific shape.” (Id.) Shapes and audible marks are also registrable. There are transitional provisions that apply to trademarks registered in Djibouti under a repealed French law of 1964. (Id.)

The types of patents available under the law are patents of invention and certificates of addition. (Id.) The following are excluded from patentability because they are not considered inventions:

  • naturally occurring discoveries and substances and the parts thereof;
  • scientific theories and mathematical methods;
  • the human body and its component materials or elements thereof, including the gene sequence or partial sequence;
  • essential biological processes for plant and animal production;
  • esthetic creations, such as literary and artistic works;
  • schemes, methods, and rules for performing mental acts, playing games, or conducting business;
  • computer programs; and
  • presentations of information. (Djibouti: Law No. 50/AN/09/6th L on the Protection of Industrial Property (June 21, 2009), art. 26, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) website.)

The following also may not be patented:

  • plants and animals (except for microorganisms);
  • diagnostic, surgical, or therapeutic methods of treatment for the human or animal body; and
  • inventions whose commercial effect or implementation would contravene public order or morality, or infringe upon the health or life of people, animals, plants, or the environment. (Id. art. 27.)

Since May 12, 2002, Djibouti has been a member of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (or “Paris Union” Mar. 20, 1883, text as amended through Sept. 28, 1979), WIPO website) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO website (last visited Sept. 14, 2012)), but it is not a party to the Madrid Agreement for the International Registration of Trademarks (Apr. 14, 1891, text as amended through Sept. 28, 1979), WIPO website) or to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (June 19, 1970, as amended, WIPO website). (New Industrial Property Law in Djibouti, supra.)