Patent in Africa

Africa is one of the easiest continents in which to file patents. It has a total population of 1.216 billion people – about 10% shy of China’s – and much of this can be covered by only 4 patent filings.

Suggested patent filing strategy for Africa

Tier 1 countries:

Cover Africa’s economic powerhouses – South Africa and Nigeria. These countries generate more than 20% of Africa’s GDP, and their patent costs are the lowest on the continent:

South Africa: US$585 – this covers filing, official fees, prosecution and grant. Since the South African patent office does not examine patents (apart from pharmaceutical patents), you should receive a patent in about 12 months at a fixed price. The most affordable South African national phase patent filing ($399) is offered by GlobalIPCo (for whom we are the exclusive South African agent).

Nigeria: US$775 – this covers filing, official fees, prosecution, grant and courier of the patent certificate. Nigeria is also not a patent examining country. So, there are no additional prosecution fees, and issuance of the certificate takes about 4 months.

Renewal fees: South Africa about US$50 per year; Nigeria about US$250 per year.

We suggest filing a SANi combination South Africa-Nigeria patent for only $875 (S&Z all-inclusive cost to law firms). The most popular is the SANi Vicennial Patent (S&Z cost to law firms: $875), which includes pre-payment of all renewal fees for both the South African and Nigerian patents. By pre-paying renewals fees, the lifetime cost of the SANi patent is significantly reduced.

The SANi Patent covers countries with a higher GDP than ARIPO or OAPI patents combined.

Tier 2 region:

Cover the “English speaking” countries:

Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

ARIPO countries make up about 10% of Africa’s total GDP.

You can select all 19 States for a filing fee of US$3,320*. However, we suggest selecting only 7 States (Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe), which reduces the filing fee to US$2,195*.

ARIPO renewal fees range from around US$815* per year for 7 States to about US$1,475* per year for 19 States.

Tier 3 region:

Cover the Francophone countries:

Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

OAPI countries make up about 5.5% of Africa’s total GDP.

Unlike ARIPO, you must select all OAPI countries. To file an OAPI patent application costs US$2,075**, and the OAPI renewal fees start from US$400*.

African countries to avoid filing patents in:

Our tips:

  • Where an African country is covered by ARIPO or OAPI, rather enter that country via these regional patent systems than directly – the regional systems are centralised and far more efficient.
  • Steer clear of Portuguese speaking countries (e.g. Angola and Mozambique). Documents need to be translated and legalisation is a serious hurdle – from a cost and time perspective.
  • Many small African countries do not have properly functioning patent offices, so patents may take many years to be granted, if at all.
  • Patent enforcement in some African countries is a problem. We steer clear of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Why choose IdeaNav?

IdeaNav specialises in filing patents in South Africa, Nigeria, ARIPO and OAPI. IdeaNav has a team of patent attorneys based in Johannesburg (S&Z Patent Attorneys), South Africa and files African patents for many of the global bulk filing companies. By using the GlobalIPCo filing system, IdeaNav / S&Z is able to reduce patent costs.

* Quoted prices are subject to fluctuations in exchange rates.

** Depends on number of priority claims, claims and pages.

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