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Enforcement of IPRs in Ethiopia


Enforcement of IPRs
Usually trademark infringers do not produce the counterfeit products locally in Ethiopia; instead, they import such products from the Asian countries like China, India, etc. The current trend shows that famous brands are targeted and counterfeited by trademark infringers. Such infringers even import the counterfeited products from the same country of the original product.
Clothes, pharmaceuticals, and machinery most often face counterfeiting and piracy in Ethiopia.
They are as follows:
  • The Trademark Registration and Protection Proclamation no 501/2006 and Regulation no. 273/2012;

  • The Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Protection Proclamation no. 410/2004;

  • The Patent Law of Ethiopia is governed by proclamation no. 123/95 together with the council of ministers regulation no. 12/97; and

  • The Plant Breeders' Right Proclamation No. 481/2006.
Patents, trademarks, copyright, and plant varieties are the different types of IPRs protected by IPR enforcement in Ethiopia.
There are no prerequisites to filing a lawsuit; although, it is customary to issue a letter of warning to the party in question for stopping the infringement. Furthermore, the civil court remedies are only available if the trademark is registered.
Also, although not necessary, it is advised to seek counsel from local legal representatives since they have a better understanding as to the standing of the law.
Yes, it is usually for a period of 02 years from the day of being acquainted of such infringing activity. However, the limit does not apply in cases where the offence is of continuing nature.
A) Government Authorities - Yes
B) Police Officials - Yes
C) Judiciary - Yes
D) Customs - Yes
A) Injunctions - Yes
B) Monetary Compensation - Yes
C) Raids - Yes
D) Seizures - Yes
E) Destruction - Yes
Other civil remedies include an award for attorney fees, court fees, and other expenses.
The average time taken to resolve the commercial disputes, including IPR matters in the Federal High Court is more than 01 year and 08 months, and the longest period is more than 06 years and 03 months. This depicts the inefficiency of courts and demands a reform mechanism.
The court proceedings may be longer than usual and time-consuming due to prior backlog.
  • A) Responsible Authority - Commercial Bench of High Court, Federal First Instance Court
  • B) Imprisonment Term - Trademarks: Rigorous imprisonment of a term of not less than 05 years (negligent infringement) and up to 10 years for intentional infringement.
  • C) Monetary Fine - Fines are compensatory in nature and are calculated on a case to case basis holding account of the net profits, royalty, expense of bringing the suit, and other determinant factors as well.
Other criminal remedies include an award for attorney fees, court fees, and other expenses.
The court proceedings may be longer than usual and time-consuming due to prior backlog.
In Ethiopia, arbitration is not a well-developed practice for commercial and IPR disputes generally. This is, in part, due to the legal and institutional gaps and problems related to it.
There are no mandatory settlement conferences or court mediation procedures. If the parties settle the matter out of court, they will present the settlement agreement to the court with an application to the court to ratify the agreement and the case will be closed.
The remedies available under border control measures (customs) in Ethiopia include seizure and destruction of goods.
The applicant must bear the costs of customs intervention during enforcement.
The customs may remove the goods from detention in such an instance.
Court proceedings
Despite the effort that has been made by the State in establishing a judicial commercial bench, delays in the court decision, inconsistent decisions and unpredictability, lack of judges with specialization in the IP law, lack of knowledge, and misapplication of the law related to the IP matters are the major challenges.