Patents of Invention

– Law on the Protection of Intellectual Property (Law No. 31/2009) dated October 26, 2009, published on December 14, 2009.
– Ministerial Order No. 24 of March 17, 2016, determining the fees payable for registration services of intellectual property.
– Ministerial Order No. 07/10/Minicom of August 25, 2010, determining structure and functioning of the Commission of Appeal in charge of settling industrial property disputes.

Membership in International Conventions

– Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), since February 3, 1984.
– Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, Stockholm Act, since March 1, 1984.
– WTO’s TRIPS Agreement, since May 22, 1996.
– Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), since August 31, 2011.
– ARIPO, Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs, since September 24, 2011.

Filing

Applicant: inventor or his successor, whether a partnership, company or individual, either national or foreign. 

Applicants not living in the country: where an applicant’s ordinary residence or principal place of business is outside Rwanda, he shall be represented by an authorized industrial property agent resident and practicing in Rwanda.

Naming of inventor(s): must be named as such in the application for a patent, unless he makes a written declaration to the Registrar General that he does not wish to be named.

Novelty: absolute novelty is required. Prior public use of an invention or prior printed publication or oral disclosure anywhere destroys novelty, unless as a result of actions by the applicant or his legal predecessor, or of a violation by a third party, within twelve months of the application date.

Patentable: any new and useful discovery or any improvement which can be applied to industry or commerce.

Unpatentable: (a) discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods; (b) schemes, rules or methods for doing business, performing purely mental acts or playing games; (c) methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy, as well as diagnostic methods practiced on the human or animal body; (this exclusion does not apply to products for use in any of those methods); (d) substances, even if purified, synthesized or otherwise isolated from nature; (this exclusion does not apply to the processes of isolating those substances from their original environment); (e) known substances for which a new use has been discovered; (this exclusion does apply to the use itself, where it constitutes an invention under the Law); (f) plants and animals, including their parts, other than micro-organisms, and essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals and their parts, other than non-biological and microbiological processes and products obtained from those processes; (g) animal and plant varieties; (h) pharmaceutical products, for the purposes of International Conventions to which Rwanda is party; (i) inventions whose commercial use is contrary to public order and to morality.

Kinds of protection: (a) patents; (b) patents of addition.

Filing requirements for an application (to be sent to resident agent):
1. Power of attorney (signed, with company’s seal, and notarized if foreign applicant);
2. Description, claims and abstract, in English or French;
3. Drawings in quadruplicate, if necessary for understanding the invention;
4. If Convention priority is claimed, a certified copy of the basic application together with a verified English or French translation thereof may be requested by the Registrar General.

PCT applications: to be filed in accordance with the provisions of the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the Regulations made thereunder. The time limits for entering national phase are those which would normally apply: 30 months for both Chapters I and II, and 31 months through ARIPO Chapters I and II.

Examination, Protection

Amendment: amendments to applications may be made before acceptance provided the amendment does not go beyond the scope of the original application. After acceptance or grant, the owner may request that the Registrar General make amendments to the patent text or drawings to limit the scope of the protection claimed.

Examination procedure: there is no examination as to novelty, only as to form. Patents are granted without any guarantee of novelty.

Opposition: no procedure is available for opposing an application.

Publication: normally patents are granted very soon after filing and notice of grant is advertised.

Beginning of protection: protection begins from the date of filing.

Duration: twenty years from the date of application. Patents of addition expire with the main patent.

Annuities: are payable under the new Law, on the anniversary of the filing date.

Annuity grace period: a grace period of six months is allowed for the payment of late annuities, on payment of a surcharge.

Marking: not compulsory, but recommended.

Assignments: assignments must be recorded to be effective against third parties. Requirements for registration of an assignment: (a) deed of assignment or other instrument of title, together with a verified English or French translation; (b) power of attorney (not legalized); (c) original certificate of registration for endorsement purposes.

Working: working must take place within three years from the date of grant, or four years from the filing date, whichever is longer. Failure to do so may result in the grant of a compulsory license.

Infringement: actions for infringement may be brought by patentees against any party who make, import, stock or sell a patented product or use a patented process without the consent of the owner, or any party who facilitates any infringing acts.

Revocation: where it is found that the subject of a patent has been exploited by a third party in Rwanda before the date of the patent or that publication has taken place or where the specification is deficient in that the exact method of carrying out the invention is intentionally omitted, a patents tribunal has the power to declare a patent null and void. Patents of importation may also be declared null and void by the tribunal should it be established that the patentee is not the owner or assignee of the owner of the foreign patent.

Compulsory licenses: see “Working” above. The grant of compulsory license is subject to appeal to the Commission of Appeal.