(WIPO code: OA) (last revised June 2023)

by CABINET ISIS CONSEILS, Mandataire OAPI, Yaoundé, Cameroon

General Information

Following preparatory discussions, twelve of the former French African Colonies, south of the Sahara, formed the “Organisation Africaine et Malgache de Coopération Economique” (OAMCE).

The organization dealt with the protection of industrial property. A treaty was finally signed on September 13, 1962, at Libreville in the Gabon Republic, called the “Accord de Libreville”. A central office in lieu of twelve national offices was established, and adopted a common legislation giving effect to the Libreville Accord so that the registration at the central office would then afford the same protection for patents, trade and service marks and designs, models and commercial names in all the member countries.

The central office is the “Office Africain et Malgache de la Propriété Industrielle” (OAMPI), established at Yaoundé in the Republic of Cameroon.

The OAMPI started operating on January 1, 1964, and is a completely autonomous body.

In one of its annual meetings, held at Bangui, Central African Republic, in March 2, 1977, the Board of Directors comprising the representatives of the governments of the member States adopted a new Accord, named “Bangui Agreement”, and changed the office’sname to “Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle” (OAPI). The Bangui Agreement came into force on February 8, 1982.

The Board of Directors decided to amend the Bangui Agreement, and on February 24, 1999, also in Bangui, a revised version of the Bangui Agreement was signed. The revised Agreement came into force on February 28, 2002. The Bangui Agreement was further amended on December 14, 2015 in Bamako. The revised Agreement (and certain Annexes) came into force on November 14, 2020. On January 1, 2022, Annexes III, IV and V of the revised Bangui Agreement came into force, introducing significant changes to the registration of trademarks and industrial designs in OAPI.

Member States of the OAPI (17 countries):

Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea (Conakry), Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Togo.

All member States are members of the Paris Convention, the WIPO Convention and the PCT.

Official languages: French and English. Currency used: C.F.A. franc.

Extension to new countries: when a new country joins the OAPI, it is possible to extend existing OAPI rights to this new country within a delay of eighteen months from the effective date of adhesion. In the same way, the rights in force in the said new country can also be extended to the OAPI within the same time limit of eighteen months. On the other hand, the existing rights of the new country remain valid up to their next expiry date in the said country and then become void. As concerns the previous adhesions (Mali, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau) a moratorium which expired on June 4, 2000, had been opened to extend existing rights to these three countries. In January 2004 a new regulation came into force according to which it is now possible to extend rights at any time after the eighteen months delay and for any country, but with a fine. However, the extension can only be applied for when the concerned right is still in force.

OAPI can be a designated or elected Office under the PCT. This occurs if at least one member country which is also a PCT member is designated or elected (both Chapters I and II: 30 months).

Membership in International Conventions:

– The Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs, since September 16, 2008.
– The International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), 1991 Act, since July 10, 2014.
– The Madrid Protocol relating to the Madrid Agreement concerning the International Registration of Marks, since March 5, 2015.
– The Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, since February 13, 2016.
– The Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications, since March 15, 2023.
– The Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure, since March 15, 2023.