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Intellectual Property laws & Copyright in Tanzania

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Intellectual Property laws and Copyright in Tanzania

Intellectual property in Tanzania refers to the legal rights that come with intellectual creations in the realms of industry, science, literature, and art.

Gerpat Solutions can help you with Intellectual property and copyright for your entity in Tanzania.

Intellectual property rights are intended to encourage and safeguard mental creations and innovations. Intellectual property rights provide legal protection for artistic and scientific breakthroughs.

Tanzania is a member of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), among other organizations (WIPO).

The United Republic of Tanzania’s Constitution recognizes intellectual property ownership and ensures its protection. In order to do this, legislation has been passed to promote and defend intellectual property rights.

The Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act governs copyrights. The Copyright Society of Tanzania (COSOTA) is an organization that handles copyright registration. Works by writers who are Tanzanian citizens or have a habitual residency in Tanzania are protected by copyright.

Tanzania ratified the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works on July 25, 1994, and it became effective on July 25, 1994. To this purpose, copyrights in Tanzania are territorial in the sense that they protect all works created in the United Republic of Tanzania and those first published in Tanzania, regardless of the authors’ nationality.

The Trade and Service Marks Act governs trademarks.13 The Tanzanian Business Registration and Licensing Agency is in charge of trademark and patent registration (BRELA). A trademark registration is valid for seven years and can be renewed for an additional ten years indefinitely. Unregistered trademarks are also protected under common law if the holder can demonstrate that the mark has acquired goodwill.

The Patent (Registration) Act17 provides protection to patents. After completing specific standards pertaining to novelty, usefulness, and ingenuity, a patent may be registered for innovations (other than a discovery, scientific theory, mathematical technique, aesthetic work, computer program, or presentation of information).

In Tanzania, there is no native procedure for registering designs. Tanzania, on the other hand, has ratified the Agreement on the Establishment of the African Regional Industrial Property Organization, 1979 (which took effect on October 12, 1983) and the Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs within the Framework of the African Regional Industrial Property Organization (the Harare Protocol), 1982. (effective for Tanzania as from 01 September 1999).

Intellectual property law attempts to protect intellectual inventors and other producers of intellectual products and services by allowing them time-limited rights to own and control their creations’ use, reference, and possession. Those rights pertain to the intellectual invention rather than the physical item in which the work may be embodied.

There are two types of intellectual property. These are the following:

Industrial property encompasses, but is not limited to;

  • Patents
  • Trademarks
  • Industrial Designs
  • Copyright Patents

It is critical to note at this point that the focus of this paper will be on the issue of intellectual property procedural law controlling patents.

Patents are governed by the following laws in Tanzania’s mainland:

The Patents (Registration) Act of 1995 is a law that governs the registration of patents (Chapter 217 of the Laws)

190 of 1994, Patents Regulations

Patent laws in Zanzibar are as follows:

Cap 157, Patents Decree (11 of 1930, Cap 9 of 1934, 27 of 1935, S. 5, 11 of 1958) Zanzibar’s laws.

Patent Rules in the Laws of Zanzibar (Schedule to Decree No. 11 of 1930).

Patent is defined as:

A patent is a legal document that grants an invention exclusive rights. It is a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention (and, with the development of the law and concept, registered by multinational intellectual property organizations such as WIPO and ARIPO). An invention is a product or a process that solves a specific technological problem.

An Invention

It is common knowledge that an innovation is required to get exclusive recognition, rights, or protection. An innovation, as defined by Section 7 of The Patent Act (hereafter referred to as “The Act”), is a solution to a specific issue in the realm of technology, which can be a product or a method.

As a result, a patent is often designed to protect things or processes that have novel functional or technical features. As a result, patents cover topics such as how things function, what they do, how they do it, what they’re composed of, and how they’re manufactured. The great majority of patents are for minor advancements in already existing technologies.

Thus, the principles of originality (or absence of anticipation) and inventive step are central to patent law (or lack of obviousness). To put it another way, not every invention is patentable unless it is novel, difficult to foresee, and useful in industry. An invention is patentable if it is new, involves an inventive step, and is industrially applicable, according to Section 8 of the Act.

Who has the right to file a patent?

An inventor is given a patent, which gives him or her the right for a limited time to prevent others from creating, using, or selling the invention without the creator’s permission.

When a patent is obtained, the innovation becomes the inventor’s property, which may be purchased, sold, rented, or hired just like any other type of property or business asset.

Patents are territorial rights in the sense that they are only recognized and enforced in the territory/country/jurisdiction in which they were filed.

The right to a patent belongs to an inventor, according to Section 14(1) of the Act. One must apply for a patent in order to be acknowledged as an inventor. A patent application might be either a national or an international patent application.

If a country has ratified an international treaty, such as the Patent Cooperation Treaty, an applicant can file a single international application with a national or regional patent office or the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to seek patent protection for his invention in a large number of countries. (See Sections 2(b) and 3 of the Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs in the ARIPO Framework, as well as Articles 7–12 of the Washington International Patent Cooperation Treaty of 1970 in the WIPO Framework.)

Patents are granted under Section 18 of the Act.

According to the clause, the applicant must demonstrate that the invention is novel/new and has never been published anywhere else in the world in the application. (For more information, see Section 7 of the Act.) In this case, according to S. 7(2), the innovation should not be:

Mathematical theories and discoveries

Other than microbiological activities, plant or animal kinds, or biological processes, and the products of such processes

Schemes, norms, or techniques for doing business or engaging in purely mental activities

Procedures for surgical or therapeutic treatment of the human or animal body, as well as diagnostic methods, but not items for use in any of those methods.

Ownership of a patent entails a set of rights (Including Disposition and Assignment)

 According to Section 35 of the Act, the patent owner receives the following rights, which are infringed upon if they are exercised by anybody other than the patent owner.

If in respect of a product;
Making, importing or offer for sale, assignment, selling and using the product
Stocking the product for sale or for using
If in respect of a process;
The use of that process
Doing acts in (i) above in respect to the product obtained directly by means of the process.

However, under Sections 68(1) and (2) of the Conduct, a person with a genuine interest can ask the court to declare that a specific act does not infringe the patent, and the owner or licensee can be named as a defendant in the proceedings. However, no such declaration shall be made if:

The acts for which the request is made are already under investigation for infringement.

The person making the request is unable to show that he previously asked from the owner a written acknowledgement of the legality of the conduct in question, which he refused or did not respond to within a reasonable period.

What is the procedure for obtaining a patent?

A person seeking a patent for his or her invention in Tanzania has two possibilities under Tanzanian law. These are the following:

By filing a patent application with BRELA’s Registrar of Patents,

The inventor or any other person who has a claim to an invention submits a patent application with the Registrar of Patents’ office under the Patent Act. (See the Act’s Section 18(1).) According to The Patents Regulations, the aforementioned application shall be made by filling out FORM NO.2. Patents are given by the Registrar through BRELA, a government agency (Business Registrations and Licensing Agency).

According to Section 18 of the Act, the application must include the following information:

The invention’s title,

A description of the innovation as well as the technical field in which it is classified.


The description should be written in straightforward language such that someone with a basic grasp of the topic may work on the invention based on the description. More details, such as drawings, should be included, as well as a statement of the invention’s claims.

By submitting a request to the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) (ARIPO)

The Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs empowers the African Regional Industrial Property Organization (ARIPO), located in Harare, Zimbabwe, to award patents and register utility models and industrial designs on behalf of contracting governments. Patent applications can be submitted directly to the ARIPO office or through the industrial property agency of a contracting state. Payment of the required fees is required before the application may be processed.

An applicant may be represented by an attorney, agent, or legal practitioner who is authorized to represent applicants before any Contracting State’s industrial property agency.

When filing an application directly with the ARIPO Office but the applicant’s ordinary residence or principal place of business is not in the host country of the Office; or when filing an application with the industrial property office of a Contracting State by an applicant whose ordinary residence or principal place of business is not in a Contracting State, the applicant should be represented by an agent.

When a contracting state receives an application, the industrial property office must transfer the application to the ARIPO office within one month of receiving the application.

The information and documentation listed below are required:

  1. applicant’s complete information
  2. attorney-in-fact (prescribed form; simply signed)
  3. specification in English (containing claims, illustrations, and abstract)
  4. a description of the contracting states that will be created
  5. paperwork for an assignment (if the applicant is not the inventor)
  6. A copy of the priority document that has been certified.

All documents must be written in the English language. However, if the English translation is filed promptly, a filing date can be obtained in ARIPO with a foreign language specification, claims, and drawings.

A patent granted under the African Region Industrial Property Organization’s Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs (the Harare Protocol), 1982, in which the United Republic of Tanzania is a designated state, has the same effect in Tanzania and Zanzibar as a patent granted under local patent legislation.

If the local Patent Office indicates to ARIPO that it objects to the issuance of a patent, ARIPO’s grant has no effect in the United Republic of Tanzania until a decision is taken in line with the Harare Protocol’s rules.

What is the length of time that patent protection lasts?

In Tanzania, especially under the supervision of S. A patent is protected for ten years from the date of grant under section 38(1) of the Act. In addition, under S. 38(2) states that the patent owner or licensee may request a 5-year extension of the patent’s term if the request is made not more than twelve months and not less than one month before the patent’s expiration date.

The ARIPO Protocol stipulates that each member country’s patent shall be valid for 20 years (as required by WTO/TRIPS). However, national legislation in certain ARIPO member nations has not been updated to give effect to this clause, and the situation gets complicated in countries like Tanzania where the national law specifies a different length for the duration. As a dualist state (requiring international law to be incorporated into domestic law in order for international law to be effective), Tanzania’s stance is that the state’s law prevails until the ARIPO position is fully absorbed.

Infringement of patents and remedies

A person violates a patent by creating, using, proposing to sell, selling, or importing any patented invention without the owner’s permission within the patent’s term, according to Section 65 of the Act.

Section 66 of the Act allows a person who has been harmed by patent infringement to file a lawsuit in the High Court. If infringement is established under S. 66 of the Act, the Court is required to award the following relief:

Damages and any other remedies are available in the case of an injunction to prevent infringement or to prevent the continuance of the infringement.

Contact us today to get assistance with Intellectual property in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar.