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Amendments to the Harare Protocol and Implementing Regulations as of 1 January 2022

On 1 January 2022, a number of additional amendments to the Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs (the “2022 Protocol”) and the Implementing Regulations (the “Regulations”) for the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (“ARIPO”) came into effect.    

Some of the most important changes are:

  • Utility models now merely require regional (ie, all ARIPO member states) novelty rather than absolute novelty.
  • The duration for an ARIPO registered design has been increased from 10 to 15 years (unless a shorter term is provided for in the relevant member state).
  • Provision is now made for filing third-party observations with regard to patentability for patents and utility models, and the requirements for this procedure are set out in the Regulations.
  • Provision is made, other than for PCT National Phase applications, for additional member states to be designated after filing the ARIPO application up until publication of the application.
  • An additional ground for requesting a time extension is provided for, including due to “an exceptional occurrence”, such as a pandemic, natural disaster, war, civil disorder or general breakdown in an electronic means of communication.
  • Since 1 January 2017, it has been mandatory to file a request for substantive examination. Should the request for substantive examination and fees not be paid before the deadline, the application will be deemed to be abandoned. The fees required to be paid include the patent examination fee and additional fees for each excess page over 30 and each excess claim over 10.
  • However, the 2022 Protocol has set new deadlines for requesting substantive examination in applications filed after 1 January 2022, depending on the type of application filed:
    • In the case of a Paris Convention or direct ARIPO application where priority is claimed, the request for substantive examination must be made and official fees paid within 36 months from the earliest priority date;
    • In the case of a direct ARIPO application where no priority is claimed, the request for substantive examination must be made and official fees paid within 36 months from the date of filing the ARIPO application;
    • In the case of a PCT National Phase application, the request for substantive examination must be made and official fees paid within 36 months from the PCT (international) filing date.
  • It is possible to file an amended specification and claims, including to reduce the excess page and claims fees prior to requesting substantive examination, provided that no content that extends beyond the application as filed is introduced. In order to reduce the excess page and claim fees, it may therefore be desirable to amend the specification and claims before requesting examination. For example, similar amendments to those made in a corresponding European patent application might be made in the ARIPO application.
  • When calculating the excess page fees payable upon requesting examination, the sequence listing has been explicitly excluded, provided it complies with WIPO ST.25. This is a welcome amendment, given that excess claim official fees are USD50 per claim over 10, and excess page official fees are USD20 per page over 30 and USD30 per page over 100.
  • Where any amendment introduces excess pages or claims compared to those paid for when requesting examination, these additional fees are payable at the time of payment of grant and issue fees.
  • After search and examination have commenced, a voluntary amendment request may only be made in response to an examination report by the ARIPO office. The amendments must be identified and the basis for the amendments in the disclosure as-filed must be provided, and the amendments must be consented to by the examiner in a written examination report to have effect. The amendments may not add matter that does not fall within the originally claimed invention to form a single general inventive concept unless additional search and examination fees are paid.
  • Amendments that came into effect on 1 January 2018 providing for expedited/accelerated substantive examination or delayed substantive examination have been modified in the 2022 Protocol. Modified examination without payment of fees is provided for, if the invention relates to one of the fields of “green technologies defined in the Administrative Instructions”.


Please don’t hesitate to contact ENSafrica's IP team should you require any further information or assistance.

Rowan Forster
IP | Executive
+27 83 440 3170

Dr Joanne van Harmelen
IP | Patent Attorney

+27 82 770 5396