New Industrial Property Code in Sao Tome and Principe

This new Law had a notorious inspiration in the Portuguese Law, from which many solutions were adopted, making a revision of the law previously in force (Law no. 4/2001, 31 December and Decree no. 6/2004, 30 June) that needed some alterations due to the evolution of the current needs in what concerns Intellectual Property matters.

Amongst the alterations introduced by the new law, it is worth highlighting the introduction of a general deadline to submit reply to oppositions (fixed in 3 months period, and extendable to 1 month); the establishment of an administrative channel for officious alteration of the decisions (within 3 months from a decision’s publication); the more detailed definition of nullity, anullability and expiry regimes (terms that follow the ones established in the Portuguese law); and the possibility to revalidate expired rights, due to the non-payment of the maintenance fees.

It is also important to highlight the introduction of new types of industrial property rights, such as: utility models, complementary protection certificates, semiconductor products’ topography, awards, logos, as well as Criminal sanctions for the violations of these rights.

In more concrete terms, concerning trademarks, there also exist news that deserve particular attention, namely, the explicit reference to three-dimensional and sound trademarks; the clarification of the reasons for the refusal of registration, arising now a more rigorous delimitation of the concept of imitation; a special protection for notorious and prestigious trademarks in São Tomé and Príncipe; the duration of trademarks, counting now from the granting date; the caducity requests for non-use, that shall now be competence of the Sao Tomean Institute (SENAPI); and the creation of new explicit provisions that recognize and regulate the regional trademarks (ARIPO) and international trademarks (Madrid Protocol).

In what concerns patents, there have also been verified some alterations with the entrance of the new Law, concretely the introduction of specific provisions that recognize and regulate regional patents (ARIPO) and international patents (PCT); the stipulation of provisions on compulsory licenses; and the regulation of the complementary protection certificates (even though these do not define the substantive requirements and the term of duration).

To conclude, the new Law aims to improve and systematize all IP matters and, furthermore, to clarify the legislation on the right of priority and on the administrative procedures in São Tomé and Príncipe. It remains to be seen if all of these alterations will reap results in praxis legis.

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