COPYRIGHT AND TRADEMARK REGISTRATION IN CAMEROON

Copyright and trademark registration in Cameroon is regulated by the Bangui Agreement of February 24th, 1999 also known as the copyright and trademark law in Cameroon. This agreement also regulates copyright-related litigation in Cameroon. The Bangui agreement covers a wide scope of matters pertaining to trademark in Cameroon, Patent in Cameroon and Copyright in Cameroon. The code on African Intellectual Property is the fruit of the Bangui Agreement. The code covers the scope of intellectual property to wit; Copyright and Trademark registration, and the Copyright and Trademark litigation process. The code also regulates the registration of Industrial Designs, Geographical Indications, Utility Models, Trade Name, Literary and Artistic Property, Protection against unfair competition, Layout Designs of Integrated Circuits, Plant variety etc.

The most frequently asked questions when it concerns trademark, patent and copyright protection in Cameroon is as follows;

  • What amounts to a trademark?

A mark of products and services which is visible to use or which is proposed to be used to distinguish products or services of an enterprise or company as against its competitors.

  • What type of signs and symbols constitute a trademark?

Signs and symbols admitted as trademarks include;

  1. Patronymic names, slogans and work of arts,
  2. Particular denomination be they arbitrary or fantasy,
  3. The characteristic form of a product or its condition,
  4. Labels, envelops, emblems, finger prints, stamps, seal, stickers, numbers and letters etc.
  • What are the types of trademark?

A trademark can be individual or collective in nature. An individual trademark is a mark which belongs to a physical person or moral person. A collective mark is a mark used jointly by several persons exercising their activities under the control of the owner of the same domain name or of which the products or services have the same qualities.

  • What are the qualities of a mark suitable for protection?

To be protected, the trademark must have the following qualities;

  1. Must be distinct for the products or service on which it is applicable,
  2. should not mislead the public or business milieu,
  3. Should not be against the law, public order or good morals,
  4. Should not reproduce, imitate or contain among its elements the coat of arms, the flag or other emblem, abbreviations or acronyms, stamp (official) of control or of guaranty of a state etc.
  • What are the requirements to apply for trademark protection?

The application for trademark registration and protection comprise of the following requirements;

  1. The applicant’s particulars: name, address and nationality,
  2. Power of attorney signed within a 3 months deadline after filing date,
  3. Certified copy of priority application if claimed,
  4. Classes and specification of goods and services,
  5. A copy of the trademark,
  6. Address of a mandate etc.
  • What is the timeframe to deliver the decision of a registered trademark?

7-12 months after the deposit of an application for trademark registration.

  • How is an application with irregularities treated?

When irregularities are discovered in an application for trademark protection and registration, notifications of irregularity is addressed to the applicant or mandate with a three months deadline granted for the defects to be regularized. This deadline can be further extended by 30 days upon justifiable application of the applicant or mandate.

  • What is the duration of a trademark protection?

10 years beginning from the date of filing the application.

  • What happens to the trademark at the end of the 10 year protection period?

The ownership of a trademark can be preserved without limitation of duration by successive renewal every 10years in the year of the 10th anniversary or 6 months after the 10 years expiration period and upon payment of the prescribed fee.

  • What becomes of a trademark not renewed on the deadline?

A trademark which has not been renewed on the deadline will in principle fall under the public domain.

  • What constitute registration of trademarks in a special register?

Registration of trademarks in a special register is only applicable to changes affecting the legal status of a trademark such as the assignment of a trademark, the concession of a license, the change in name of the proprietor of a trademark etc.

  • What are the modalities for registration of a trademark into a special register?

The deed which portray changes in the legal status of a trademark must be communicated to OAPI in writing in view of registration in the special register of trademarks. The application is made in the prescribed form.

  • Who is eligible to oppose the grant of a trademark?

Any interested person can oppose the registration of a trademark by addressing to OAPI accompanied with justifying documents of payment of the prescribed fee for opposition through an attorney.

  • What is the deadline for opposition?

6 months after the publication of the registered trademark in the official gazette.

  • What are the different payments applicable to trademarks on goods and services in Cameroon?

The prescribed fee applicable to trademarks in Cameroon fall under the following heads;

  1. Fee to register a trademark
  2. Fee to renew a trademark
  3. Fee to restore rights on a trademark
  4. Fee to register a trademark in the special register
  5. Search fee prior to registration of a trademark
  6. Fee for inquiries
  7. Fee to oppose the grant of a trademark etc.

In the corporate world, the use of names, shapes, specific slogans, signs, logos etc. usually has as much added value to the success of a venture as the product, good or service developed. Therefore, the protection of such intellect which fall in the scope of a trademark, patent or copyright becomes inevitable to wade off competition.

To ensure that your copyright and trademark registration is secured, an analysis will be done on the following;

PATENT PROTECTION IN CAMEROON

Patent in Cameroon are rights attached to an invention that is new, which involves an inventive step and is industrially applicable (patentable invention). To obtain patent protection in Cameroon, the following information is required;

  1. Name, nationality and address of applicant(s)
  2. Title of invention
  3. Name and address of inventor(s)
  4. Detailed description of the object of invention
  5. Formal drawings of the invention on A4 size papers
  6. Descriptive abstract of the invention
  7. Claims of priority (if any)
  8. Assignment of priority right (if any)
  9. Power of Attorney if client is represented by an IP attorney

TRADEMARK IN CAMEROON

Any visible sign used or intended to be used and capable of distinguishing the goods or service of any enterprise shall be considered a trademark or service mark, including in particular surnames by themselves or in a distinctive form, special arbitrary or fanciful designations, the characteristic form of a product or its packaging, labels, wrappers, emblems, prints, stamps, seals, vignettes, borders, combinations or arrangements of colors, drawings, reliefs, letters, numbers, devices and pseudonyms. 

Copyright is the legal right associated to creative work usually in the form of books, music, paintings, works of art, software programs etc. which gives to the holder the exclusive right to publish, broadcast and perform.  It also gives to the holder the prerogative of his prior authorization or permission before a third party can use same.

Copyright related litigation process can be seen in two ways;

OPPOSITION

The aspect of filing an opposition against a procedure for the grant of copyright, trademark and patent in Cameroon can be engaged by any interested person. The opposition has to be filed to the appropriate office at the prescribed time from the date of publication of the registered mark, and after provision of the documentary proof of haven paid the prescribed fee, the opposition procedure will be engaged.

All decisions given by the competent office is subject to an appeal at the High Commission of Appeal within the prescribed period.

COURT PROCESS

The court can be seized by any interested person seeking an action of invalidity or forfeiture of a patent, Utility Model etc.

The interested person can engage a suit seeking a declaration of absolute invalidity or forfeiture.

If an accused person in an action brought before a criminal court raises questions in his defence concerning the ownership of the mark, the competent court shall deliver judgment thereon.