(WIPO code: SO) (last revised January 2022)

by SPOOR & FISHER JERSEY, Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys, St. Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands

General Information

Area

637,660 sq. km.

Population

12,094,640 (estimated July 2021).

Capital

Mogadishu.

Principal languages

Somali, Arabic, English, Italian.

Currency

Somali shilling.

Imports

Vehicles and other machinery and manufactured goods, clothing and textiles, petroleum products, foodstuffs and the stimulant herb called qat (Catha Edulis).

Exports

Bananas, livestock, hides and skins, wood and charcoal, fish and fish products, meat and meat products, scrap metal.

General Remarks

Somalia comprises the former British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland, which formed a Union and became independent on July 1, 1960. In 1991, the northern region (ex-British) has opted to secede under the name of Somaliland but has not been internationally recognized.

Somalia is an agricultural country. Cattle raising is the main occupation in Somalia and there is a modest export trade in cattle on the hoof, skins and hides. Italy imports the bulk of the banana crop.

There has been no effective government since 1991, when the then President Siad Barré was overthrown. Since then, competing warlords supported by heavily armed militias have ruled various areas of the country, including sectors of the capital, Mogadishu. Some of the enclaves maintain commerce of sorts and communications with the outside world – there are modern, private telecommunications firms.

It was not possible to file trademark applications in Somalia after 1991, when a civil war started. In 2012 a new constitution was enacted and the Federal Government of Somalia came into being. For some time it was possible to publish cautionary notices in local newspapers - these seemed to have a deterrent value and the thinking was that they might be recognized by a court in an infringement situation.

In 2019 the Trademarks Registry was re-established, operating from the same premises as the old Registry, and trademark filings recommenced - the authority for this seemingly comes from a law known as Decree No. 1 of 2019. It appeared that most of the pre-1991 records are intact, although these registrations were no longer valid and needed to be re-filed, without any mechanism in place for claiming any kind of seniority. The old legislation, the Trade Mark Law No. 3 of January 22, 1955, amended by Law No. 33 of January 18, 1975 and Law No. 3 of December 3, 1987 - is once again recognised, although new legislation (with provisions that recognise existing rights) is expected. There is a functioning Somali Intellectual Property Office (SIPO).

It is important to note that these developments do not affect the neighboring country of Somaliland, where there is no IP legislation but cautionary notices are available.