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The intellectual property laws of Ethiopia are governed by various proclamations, regulations, and directives. The Copyright and Neighboring Rights Protection proclamation no. 410/2004 were forced on July 19th, 2004. The copyright proclamation was later amended by proclamation no. 872/2014. The patent law of Ethiopia is governed by proclamation no. 123/95 together with the council of ministers regulation no. 12/97. The patent laws regulate inventions, minor inventions, utility models, and industrial design.

Ethiopia is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization. The responsible government entity for IP in Ethiopia is the Ethiopian Intellectual property office. The office provides the following services.

  1. Patent or Utility Modal
  2. Trademark
  3. CopyRight
  4. Patent of Introduction and Industrial Design

IP services related to unfair competition, geographical indication, and traditional knowledge are not provided by the Ethiopian Intellectual property office. I addition, trade secrete is not protected in Ethiopia. The business will need to protect its trade secret by itself.

Patentable Subject Matter

The invention must relate to a process or product, be new (Novel), involves an inventive step, be capable of industrial application and not fall under inventions prohibited by Law.

Filing for a Patent

An Ethiopian patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor(s), issued by the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office. To get an Ethiopian patent, an application must be filed in the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office.

Registration Process

Application for Patents

An application for an invention can be made by any person claiming to be the true and first inventor of the invention (can be a group of people or company) or by the legal representative of the inventor or the assignee.

An applicant who is not domiciled or who has not established business in Ethiopia can also appoint an agent who is based in Ethiopia.

Regarding the rights of foreign nationals, the law states ” Subject to the principle of reciprocity or, where applicable, in accordance with any treaty that Ethiopia may be a party to, foreign nationals shall have the same rights and obligations as Ethiopians. ”

An application for a patent must contain:-

A. Request (ጥያቄ)  B. Description (መግለጫ)  C. Claim (የመብት ወሰን)  D. Abstract (አጭር መግለጫ)  E. Diagrams (ምስሎች/ስዕሎች)

The request for the grant of a patent shall be made on an application form provided by the EIPO, shall be signed by each applicant shall indicate each applicant’s name, address, nationality, and residence, and shall indicate each inventor’s name and address and be accompanied by a statement justifying the applicant’s right to the patent.

If the applicant is represented by an agent, the request shall indicate and state the agent’s name and address. The title of the invention shall be short, preferably from two to seven words, and precise.

Grant of A Patent :

A Patent is granted if the application has fulfilled the formality requirements, the application has not been refused by the office (EIPO), the application for the grant of the patent has not been opposed within the time prescribed and the application for the grant of the patent has been opposed but decided in favor of the applicant.

Duration of Protection

A patent shall be granted for an initial period of fifteen(15) years commencing from the filing date of the application for protection. However, the validity of the patent may be extended for a further period of five(5) years provided that proof is furnished that the invention is being properly worked in Ethiopia.

A patent of introduction may be valid for a period that may extend up to ten(10) years and shall be coupled with the owner’s obligation to prove the working of the invention each year as from the third year after it has been granted and to pay the relevant annual fees.

Utility Model Certificate

A utility model certificate is granted for a period of five years, which may be renewed for a further five years period provided that proof is furnished that the minor invention is being worked in Ethiopia.

Application for renewal of the certificate shall be filed, with the Office within 90 days prior to the expiration of the period of protection upon payment of the prescribed fees.

Conversion of Patent Applications to Applications for Utility Model Certificates and Vice-Versa

At any time before the grant or refusal of a patent an applicant for a patent may, upon payment of the prescribed fee, convert his application into an application for a utility model certificate, which shall be accorded the filing date of the initial.

At any time before the grant or refusal of a utility model certificate, an applicant for a utility model certificate may, upon payment of the prescribed fee convert his application into a patent application, which shall be accorded the filing date of the initial application.

An application may not be converted more than once.

Post Grant Services

Ethiopian Intellectual property office provides the following post-grant services: Renewal, assignment, change of name, document copy (certified), recording of License agreements Providing technical information on registered patents and utility models when demanded by enforcement bodies such as the police.

This content is repurposed from a presentation made by Intellectual Property Behailu Melketsadik from the Ethiopian Intellectual property office in a Webinar Event organized Knowledgentia Consultants IPartnership and Shega. 

Cover Image – Unsplash



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Anteneh Tesfaye, Founder and CEO of Shega, is interested in innovation and startup ecosystems across emerging markets.

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