Patents of Invention
– The Industrial Property Order, 1989 (“The Order”) (Order No. 5 of 1989), effective from May 22, 1989, as last amended by Act No. 4 of 1997.
– The Industrial Property Regulations, 1989 (Legal Notice No. 85 of 1989), in force since January 15, 1990.
Membership in International Conventions
– The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (Apostille), since October 4, 1966.
– Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), since November 18, 1986.
– ARIPO, Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs, since October 23, 1987.
– Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, Stockholm Act, since September 28, 1989.
– WTO’s TRIPS Agreement, since May 31, 1995.
– Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), since October 21, 1995.
Applicant: may be the inventor either alone or jointly with one or more other persons, or an assignee, whether an individual, firm or company.
Naming of the inventor(s): the inventors must be named in the patent, unless a special written declaration has been sent to the Registrar indicating that the inventor does not wish to be named.
Types of patents: patent of invention and ARIPO patent designating Lesotho.
Novelty: is destroyed by prior publication in tangible form anywhere in the world or by oral disclosure, by use, or in any other way in Lesotho.
Novelty grace period: disclosure by applicant or as a result of an abuse committed by a third party with regards to the applicant, where the disclosure was made in the six months preceding the filing or priority date.
Exceptions to protection: (a) a discovery; (b) a scientific theory; (c) a mathematical method; (d) a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or any other aesthetic creation; (e) an invention the publication or exploitation of which would be generally expected to encourage offensive or immoral behavior; (f) any variety of animal or plant or any essentially biological process for the production of animals or plants, not being a micro-biological process or the product of such a process; (g) a method of treatment of the animal or human body by surgery or therapy.
Priority: Paris Convention applies. An invention claimed may have more than one priority date.
Title: must be short (preferably not exceeding seven words).
Filing requirements for an application (to be sent to authorized agent):
1. Request in triplicate;
2. Power of attorney (notarization and legalization is not necessary);
3. Assignment of invention and priority rights (if applicable);
4. Specification, drawings and abstract in triplicate;
5. Priority document and, where applicable, verified English translation;
6. Small entity declaration (if applicable) stating that the number of employees, including those of its affiliates, does not exceed 500.
PCT national phase applications: the Lesotho law does not specify the additional requirements for a national phase application. It is however recommended that the following additional documents be filed: a copy of the published international application, the International Search Report and the International Preliminary Examination Report. Time limits for entering the national phase: directly in Lesotho under Chapter I is 30 months and 31 months under Chapter II from the earliest priority date. The time limit for filing an ARIPO regional phase application (designating Lesotho) under both Chapters I and II is 31 months.
Minimum requirements to obtain a filing date:
1. Application containing the name of the applicant;
2. Specification, claims and drawings (if applicable); and
3. Payment of the application fee.
Terms for filing the missing documents: the power of attorney and the assignment of invention must be filed within two months of the filing date. The priority document must be filed within three months of the filing date.
Electronic filing: not available in Lesotho.
Examination, Granting, Protection
Examination: formal examination is undertaken after filing. The Registrar may refer the application to an examining authority for substantive examination.
Amendments: the applicant may amend or correct the application at any time before grant. Amendments may not go beyond the disclosure in the application as initially filed.
Divisions: divisional applications may be filed at any time before publication of the decision of grant.
Publication: the abstract and a representative drawing will be published on grant and the records will be available for public inspection.
Duration of protection: fifteen years, with the option of a five-year extension of the term on application made before expiration of the fifteen-year term, subject to certain conditions.
Supplementary Protection Certificates for pharmaceuticals or plant protection products: not provided for.
Annuities: are payable annually commencing on the first anniversary of filing.
Annuity grace period: there is a six-month grace period for the late payment of an annuity on payment of a surcharge.
Amendments of issued patents: there is no specific provision for the amendment of a granted patent.
Restoration: no provision.
Marking: not compulsory, but advisable.
Assignments and licenses: must be recorded to be valid (enforceable).
Working: the actual working of an invention is required. Non-working of a patent or utility model in Lesotho could lead to the grant of a compulsory license, but not to cancellation.
Modification of Protection after Registration
Rights of prior user: no provision.
Opposition: no provision.
Cancellation – nullification: any interested person may request the total or partial nullification of a granted patent with the High Court at any time during the entire lifetime of the patent.
Compulsory licenses: any person who proves that he/she is able to work the patented invention in Lesotho may apply to the Registrar of Patents for the grant of a compulsory license, after the expiration of four years from the filing date of the patent or after three years from the date of grant thereof, whichever expires last, if the invention is not worked, or is worked insufficiently in Lesotho, except for justified reasons (excluding importation).
Nominal working or an offer to license would not suffice in an application for a compulsory license on such grounds.
Infringement and remedies: the manufacture, importation, exportation, offer for sale, sale and use of the patented product or the product produced by the patented process, or the stocking of the patented product for the purpose of offering for sale. The available remedies are an injunction; award of damages; and any other remedy provided for in the general law of Lesotho.
Conversion of a Patent Application into a Utility Model Application
At any time before the grant or rejection of a patent, an applicant for a patent may convert his application into an application for a utility model certificate which shall be accorded the filing date of the initial application. Conversely, at any time before the grant or rejection of a utility model certificate, an applicant for a utility model may convert his application into a patent application which shall be accorded the filing date of the initial application.