Good news for international brand owners as Mauritius has joined two key international IP treaties, the Madrid and Hague Systems for trade marks and designs respectively. Mauritius will be available to include in International trade marks and designs from 6 May 2023.
Both the Madrid and Hague Systems provide for a cost-effective way to seek trade mark or design protection across a range of countries. A single application is filed covering all the territories you wish to cover (which must come from the member states of each system). As most will know, trade mark and design rights are territorial and this does not change under these systems as each territory examines and can refuse or accept an application with respect to its territory under its national law.
However, it is a fantastic way to ‘basket’ a number of territories together. No local counsel are needed, unless objections need to be responded to, and down the line the likes of renewals and recordals of Change of Name can be centrally managed through a single office, WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization. The two systems are therefore extremely attractive from an ease of administration and cost perspectives.
Mauritius updated its IP legislation in 2019 with the adoption of the Industrial Property Act 2019. This was followed in 2022 by the bringing into force of the Industrial Property Regulations. This means the Madrid and Hague Systems have been ‘domesticated’ into local law.
Why is this important? Although Mauritius has a hybrid legal system combining both civil and common law practices, in common law countries membership of international treaties should be reflected in the local legislation. If not, and this is an issue in some other African countries, there would be enforceability doubts about any IP registration granted under the Madrid or Hague Systems.
Mauritius is a stable democracy and the multiethnic population enjoy a good standard of living. It is famed for its tourist industry with financial services also playing a big part in the economy along with a growing ICT services sector. It will be of interest to brand owners in a range of fields who will welcome the opportunity of obtaining trade mark protection in this tropical island cost-effectively. While designs are not likely to be protected in the same volumes, the possibility of international design protection is also a positive development.
The dodo may be extinct, but the Madrid System continues its quest for world domination. As we experience the cold of a British winter, a check of the Mauritian weather shows a consistent 29° for the next week. Alas, I’ll have to make do with ticking Mauritius in an upcoming International application, but only from 6 May when even the UK might be experiencing some warmth.
Trademarks / IP basics
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