On 30 July 2019, the Mauritius Parliament approved and passed the Industrial Property Bill 2019, it was then published in the Government Gazette on 10 August 2019. The bill aims to update and strengthen protection for IP rights, as well as to harmonize the current legislation in order to meet the challenges of the globalized industry.
The Mauritian economy is ranked by the World Economic Forum as the most competitive in sub-Saharan Africa. The country has enjoyed average economic growth of 3% per year from 2015 to 2019, mainly driven by financial services, retail and wholesale trade, and information and communications (ICT) technology. The gross domestic product trended upwards, reaching an estimated $10,200 in 2019 – the third highest in Africa after Equatorial Guinea and Seychelles, according to the African Development Bank Group.
The country has successfully made the transition from being dependent on one agricultural commodity (sugar) into economic diversification, which includes manufacturing (clothing and textiles), financial services, renewable energies, and ICT, supported by consistent growth in the tourism sector.
With relatively high levels of foreign investment, Mauritius has attracted more than 32,000 offshore entities, many aimed at commerce in India, South Africa, and China. Fundamental to its financial performance have been sound governance, political stability, and open regulatory systems.
In line with its growth, the government is committed to modernizing the industrial property framework to create an attractive investment environment and to continue to transform the economy into a modern and dynamic one. The new bill is key to those aims.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, regional integration and international trade, Nandcoomar Bodha, recently said of the Industrial Property Bill that: “it essentially aims at modernizing the IP framework in Mauritius, promoting innovation, facilitating the registration of industrial property rights and creating better conditions to attract high-quality investment. It is also expected to stimulate the generation of more IP assets which, when commercialized, will generate revenue for the IP right holder.”
He also pointed out, that: “it is a vital complement to the recently adopted Mauritius Research and Innovation Council Act. Both these laws would help shift our focus towards Research, Development and Innovation, and provide a framework for an innovation led economy.”
The main objects of this bill are as follows:
Some of the highlights relate to the section Marks, Trade Names, Geographical Indications, Madrid Protocol, which sets out the following provisions:
To sum up, the Industrial Property Bill encompasses a package of measures that will promote innovation, encourage and facilitate the registration and protection of industrial property rights by creating better conditions to attract investment, where the new Industrial Property Office of Mauritius will administer and implement the bill and assist in the protection, promotion, and development of industrial property governed by the proposed legislation.
The bill will come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation, and different dates may be fixed for the enactment of various sections of the act – but it is expected in the coming months.
This is a co-published article, which was originally published in the World Trademark Review (WTR).