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  • Writer's pictureAisha Playton

ALL ROADS LEAD TO AFRICA: UNPACKING THE ARIPO & CNIPA PATENT PROSECUTION HIGHWAY COLLABORATION

CNIPA and ARIPO Patent Prosecution Highway image

As an African intellectual property firm, De Beer Attorneys is always excited to share new developments in intellectual property registration on the continent. While such developments may be far and few in between in Africa, we're thrilled to spotlight a major evolution in China's continued expansion into the Continent.


Marking a significant step in intellectual property cooperation between China and Africa, the CNIPA (China National Intellectual Property Administration) released a statement on June 6, 2024, announcing a collaboration with the African IP filing system, ARIPO. This collaboration takes the form of a pilot program known as the China-Africa Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH). This initiative officially came into operation on June 8, 2024, and will run for five years, bringing China's tally of partner states in the Patent Prosecution Highway to an impressive 32 nations. Given the continued development of economic ties between China and many African nations, the expansion of China's Patent Prosecution Highway into ARIPO nations makes good business sense.


Now that we've established the basic details surrounding this partnership, let's explain the relevant elements surrounding the pilot program. ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organization) is a regional intellectual property filing system with 22 member states. Much like the more well-known Madrid system, ARIPO facilitates the filing of IP rights across multiple designated jurisdictions with a single application. The CNIPA is partnering with ARIPO to expedite the examination of patent applications between China and ARIPO member states to accelerate the adoption of innovation across these countries. Following the inception of this pilot program, applicants from China or ARIPO states will now have the opportunity to request expedited substantive examination of their patent in their desired market if their patent application includes patentable claims that are recognised by ARIPO and the CNIPA guidelines. This is facilitated through work-sharing protocols.


Africa is a largely untapped market for brands and innovators, and we welcome the expansion of commerce and innovation into the Continent over the years to come. Although a pathway for expedited patent examination does already exist within the ARIPO system, this official partnership underscores China's longstanding commitment to fostering robust trade relations with Africa and further aligns with the projected growth of the BRICS alliance across the developing world. While our home country of South Africa is not a member state of ARIPO, we are curious to see how the adoption of the Patent Prosecution Highway in Africa will impact the entire African IP market in the years to come.


How do you feel about this collaboration between China and Africa? Let us know in the comments.


For more details on the announcement and guidelines for utilising the PPH, please refer to CNIPA's official statement here https://english.cnipa.gov.cn/art/2024/6/7/art_1340_192960.html


Would you like to initiate the filing and examination of your Chinese or ARIPO granted patent via the Patent Prosecution Highway? We can help! Please contact our IP Prosecutions team at info@debeerattorneys.com and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

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