Trademark Registration in Rwanda: A Comprehensive Guide
Rwanda provides a robust framework for trademark registration, governed by the Law of Protection of Intellectual Property, Law N° 31/2009 of October 26, 2009. As a member of various international conventions, Rwanda offers a favorable environment for protecting your intellectual property rights.
Trademark protection in Rwanda is achieved through registration. A trademark can encompass various visible signs, including words, names, letters, figures, acronyms, designs, colors, and more. The following trademark types can be registered: trademarks, service marks, collective marks, and certification marks.
To initiate the registration process, applicants file their applications at the Office of the Registrar General, Rwanda Development Board. Notably, Rwanda allows for multiple-class applications, meaning a single application can cover goods or services in any number of classes.
Foreign applicants are welcome, but they need to engage a local agent. A notarized power of attorney, in accordance with Ministerial Order N°26 of 17/03/2016, is required. Domestic registration is not mandatory for foreign applicants.
Upon application, the Registrar evaluates the submission for compliance with both formal and substantive requirements. If the application meets these criteria, it is accepted and subsequently advertised in the Trade Marks Journal and official gazette for a 60-day opposition period. After this period, a registration certificate is issued.
Trademark registrations in Rwanda are valid for 10 years from the filing date, with the option for renewal in successive 10-year periods. Additionally, transitional provisions apply to trademarks registered under the old 1963 Act, which are considered valid under the new 2009 Law. However, these marks must be renewed within 10 years of the new Law coming into force.
Trademark registration in Rwanda provides essential protections for intellectual property, and the process typically takes approximately 3 months. With adherence to international agreements and robust legal provisions, Rwanda offers a secure environment for safeguarding your trademarks. Whether you are a local business or a foreign entity, Rwanda's trademark registration system accommodates your needs while upholding the principles of intellectual property protection.