Patents of Invention

– The Patents Act, 2016 (Act No. 40 of 2016) entered into force on December 27, 2016.

Membership in International Conventions

– Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, Lisbon Act, since April 6, 1965, and Stockholm Act for Articles 13 to 30, since May 14, 1977.
– African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), Harare Protocol, since February 26, 1986.
– Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), since May 14, 1977.
– WTO’s TRIPS Agreement, since January 1, 1995.
– Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), since November 15, 2001.

Filing, Protection

Applicant(s): may be the inventor(s) or an assignee. Application may be made jointly. 

Patentability: invention means a solution to a specific problem in a particular field of technology and includes a product or a process. The invention must be new, not obvious, and capable of industrial application.  

Unpatentability: the following are not patentable: (a) discoveries, scientific theories or mathematical methods; (b) schemes, rules or methods for doing business, performing purely mental acts or playing games or doing business; (c) literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or any other artistic creation; (d) presentation of information; and (e) computer programs. 

Exclusions from patentability: a patent shall not be granted for any of the following inventions: (a) methods of treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy, as well as diagnostic methods, except in relation to products for use in any of these methods; (b) plant or animal varieties or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals other than non-biological and microbiological processes and the products of such processes; (c) DNA, including complementary DNA sequences, cells, cell lines and cell cultures and seeds; (d) the whole or part of natural living beings and biological materials found in nature, even if isolated or purified, including the genome or germplasm of any natural living being; (e) new uses of a known product, including the second use of a medicine; (f) juxtaposition of known inventions or mixtures of known products or alteration of the use, form, dimensions or materials, except where in reality they are so combined or merged that they cannot function separately or where their characteristic qualities or functions have been so modified as to produce an industrial result or use not obvious to a person skilled in the art; (g) inventions which contravene or are inconsistent with public order, public morality, principles of humanity and environmental conservation; (h) public health related methods of use or uses of any molecule or other substance, whatsoever used, for the prevention or treatment of any disease which the Minister responsible for health may designate as a serious health hazard or as a life threatening disease; (i) an invention which is frivolous or claims anything obvious or contrary to well-established natural laws; or (j) an invention which is traditional knowledge or is an aggregation or duplication of traditional knowledge. 

Novelty: absolute novelty is required. However, the novelty of an invention shall not be destroyed if disclosure (a) of the invention occurred within twelve months preceding the date of filing of the application for the grant of a patent; (b) was due to, or made in consequence of, the matter having been obtained unlawfully or in breach of confidence by any person; (c) from the inventor or any other person to whom the matter was made available in confidence by the inventor or who obtained it from the inventor because the person or the inventor believed that the person was entitled to obtain it; (d) from any other person to whom the matter was made available in confidence by any person mentioned in subparagraph (i) or in this subparagraph or who obtained it from any person so mentioned because that person or the person from whom that person obtained it believed that such person was entitled to obtain it; (e) was made due to, or in consequence of, the inventor displaying the invention at an international exhibition, recognized by the Agency, and the applicant states, on lodging an application for the grant of a patent, that the inventor has notified, in the prescribed manner, that the invention has been so displayed and, within the prescribed period and in accordance with any prescribed conditions, files written evidence in support of the statement; or (f) was to the public for the purpose of providing the result of a research undertaken by any university, research institution or development institution, within six months preceding the date of lodging an application for the grant of a patent. 

Convention priority: may be claimed.

Opposition: possible within a period of three months from the date an application for a grant of a patent is advertised, or within such further period as the Registrar may allow, and before the sealing of the patent. 

Delivery of document: the patent certificate is issued in paper format.

Duration: twenty years from the filing date. 

Annuities: payable annually, and six-month grace period provided for. 

Extension of term: possible, not exceeding two years on any of the following grounds: (a) where there are hostilities between Zambia or any country of the Commonwealth and any other country and the patentee has suffered loss or damage; or (b) where an act of God occurs and the patentee has not been able to work the patent.

Filing requirements for an application (to be sent to resident agent):
1. Power of attorney, simply signed (can be late filed);
2. Specification, claims and abstract in English (required on the day of filing);
3. Formal drawings, if applicable (required on the day of filing);
4. Assignment of Invention (can be late filed);
5. Priority document with verified English translation (can be late filed within six months).

For a change of name:
1. Certificate of change of name, with a verified English translation;
2. Power of attorney, simply signed.

For a change of address:
1. Power of attorney, simply signed.

PCT applications: time limit for entering the national phase: 30 months for Chapters I and II, and 31 months through ARIPO Chapters I and II.