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Enforcement of IPRs in Zimbabwe


Enforcement of IPRs
The lack of will power to combat this evil menace, porous borders, and inadequate enforcement mechanisms are the major causes of counterfeiting and piracy in Zimbabwe.
Cellular phones, clothing, and fashion accessories are the goods that most often face counterfeiting and piracy in Zimbabwe.
They are as follows:
  • The Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act [Chapter 26:05] (Copyright Act);
  • The Industrial Designs Act [Chapter 26:02];
  • The Integrated Circuit-Layout Designs Act [Chapter 26:07];
  • The Geographical Indications Act [Chapter 26:06];
  • The Patents Act [Chapter 26:03];
  • The Plant Breeders Rights Act [Chapter 18:16]; and
  • The Trade Marks Act [Chapter 26:04].
Copyright and Neighbouring Rights, Industrial Designs, Integrated Circuit Layout Designs, Geographical Indications, Patents, Plant Breeders Rights, and Trademarks are the different types of IPRs protected by IPR enforcement in Zimbabwe.
The proprietor of a familiar foreign mark must within a month of instituting action in either the high Court or intellectual Property Tribunal, apply for registration of the said mark in Zimbabwe.
It is important for the owners of intellectual property, including trademarks and other IPRs, to ensure that they register their rights to be protected more easily in case of infringement. Registration also enables the owners to enforce their rights against the third parties.
Yes, as per section 89 of the Trade Marks Act, no prosecution for an offence under shall be commenced after the expiration of a period of:
  • 03 years from the date on which the offence is alleged to have been committed; or
  • 01 year after the first discovery thereof by a police officer or customs officer, whichever is earlier.
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
Specific orders like delivery-up or confiscatory orders may be passed.
The timelines are based on the conduct of the parties, but are usually prolonged for a period of 04 to 06 months from the commencement of pre-trial stage. The trial period may vary from 12 months to 18 months.
The court may charge the party for contempt of court depending on the nature of abuse of the measures caused.
Apart from the pre-trial procedure, the proceedings in the High Court (first instance) are usually long due and elaborate because of the dilatory procedures.
A) Responsible Authority - The High Court, IP Tribunal
B) Imprisonment Term - Trademarks: up to 02 years; Copyright: up to 02 years; Patents: up to 05 years
C) Monetary Fine - Trademarks: up to 2,000 dollars; Copyright: ZWL$2, 400, 00 (level5) to 9, 600 ,00 (level 7); Patents: up to ZWL 5,000
The court may charge the party for contempt of court depending on the nature of abuse of the measures caused.
The criminal procedures are available, but the instances of utilizing the same are very limited primarily because it is the State that initiates as the complainant in such cases.
In Zimbabwe, the IP Tribunal is the court of redressal. However, where the parties to a dispute mutually agree to resolve the disputes through ADR mechanism, the same may be resorted to in Zimbabwe.
The remedies available under border control measures (customs) in Zimbabwe include destruction of goods and fine/imprisonment.
The applicant must bear the costs of customs intervention during enforcement.
An importer or his agent who fails to comply with any requirements as directed by the Customs authority within 14 days shall be guilty of an offence.
Civil Proceedings
Generally, the government seeks to honour intellectual property ownership and rights; however, the lack of expertise and manpower and rampant corruption limit its ability to enforce these obligations. Pirating of videos, music, and computer software is common in Zimbabwe.