MALAWI ADOPTS A NEW TRADEMARKS ACT

By John Syekei Monday, April 23, 2018
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Malawi has a new Trade Marks Law, the Trademarks Act, 2018 (the “Act”). The Act received Presidential Assent on 24 January 2018 and was published on 2nd February 2018. This Act repeals the Trademarks Act of 1957 (the “1957 Act”). The Act incorporates aspects of modern trade mark law practice. Some of the salient features of this Act are:

  • The Introduction of Service Marks
    Previously, there was no provision for service marks in Malawi under the 1957 Act leaving many businesses in the service industry with quite a conundrum. These businesses would rely on the innovative skills of Malawian lawyers to draft specifications of goods that would offer some protection to their marks in respect to various services. The Act now fully adopts the Nice Agreement Concerning the Classification of Goods and Services thus making it possible to register service marks in Malawi.
  • Registration of Geographical Indications and collective marks
    The Act has gone a step higher by providing for the registration of Geographical indications and collective marks. The 1957 Act only provided for protection of certification marks.
  • Protection of well-known marks.
    The Act affords greater protection to well-known marks by incorporating the WIPO Joint Recommendation Concerning Provisions on the Protection of Well-Known Marks
  • Domestication of the Banjul Protocol on Marks in the framework of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO)
    The Act formally incorporates the Banjul Treaty to Malawian law.
  • Strict penalties for infringement
    The Act introduces criminal offenses, with ten-year prison terms possible for infringements.

The Act is therefore a step in the right direction and is a breath of fresh air in the intellectual property law practice in Malawi.
For assistance in registering trade marks in Malawi, please contact John Syekei or your relationship partner at Bowmans Kenya.