IPELA Trademark Services

IPELA provides trademark registration and protection services in Ethiopia. Our trademark services are handled by our trademark experts, ensuring personalized consultation and timely results.

Trademark Services

Registering a trademark prevents others from using a company’s business identity to market its own products or services, protecting the brand and preventing possible misbranding. IPELA facilitates the trademark registration process through the following Four Steps: 

  • Trademark search and advice: This report is optional but highly recommended.
  • Trademark application
  • Trademark registration certificate
  • Trademark appeal request

The above steps can be requested on separate basis according to the customer’s needs.

Renew your trademark with our experienced experts. Registered trademarks last for seven years; maintaining your trademark rights through efficient renewals system is of fundamental importance. To prevent the expiration of a registered trademark, trademark owners are required to file timely their trademark renewal documents with local Intellectual property office. IPELA efficiently handles trademark renewals by processing them in a timely manner through a responsible assigned expert, by keeping track of each trademark and informs the client about the deadline for renewal and payable fees before the expire period.

Trademarks should always be recorded in the correct name and address of the owner at the relevant trademark registries. IPELA manages the recording of trademark assignments, mergers, name and address changes in our jurisdictions.

Our experts do a periodical revision of recently published trademarks in Ethiopia, through identifying verbal and graphical elements, phonetic similarities, local dialects and graphic elements that could be considered similar to a particular trademark and could present a risk to its value. Notifications will be sent via email and the responsible expert provides assistance for those needing to file opposition. These will protect individuals and companies trademark from being registered or copied by another entity. In addition to the above, we provide the following services in our jurisdictions. Some of these services include:

  • Response to office actions
  • Trademark Defenses
  • Cancellation actions
  • Cease and Desist letters
  • Drafting Transfer and Assignment Agreement
  • Reminder of relevant dates
  • Consultancy on logo design
  • Notarization/legalization of documents
  • Response to Appeal and representation during oral hearing

FAQ on Trademark

Trademark is defined under the Ethiopian trademark law as any visible sign capable of distinguishing goods or services of one person from those of other persons and it may include any name, symbol, figure, letter, numerals, word, mark, color, designs, shape of goods or their packaging or their combinations. In some countries, the term service mark is used interchangeably with trademark for marks merely used to distinguish services of a given person from another.  

Trademarks which are used to distinguish goods or services of members of a given association from others are referred as collective trademarks.  Collective mark is used by members of one association to indicate their membership such as the “AAA” mark for the American Automobile Association or the “NCAA” mark for the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

In principle, legal protection of a trademark commences up on registration. That means we have to register our trademark in order to acquire ownership right. However, there is an exceptional rule that extends legal protection to unregistered trademark if such trademark acquires the status of well-known trademark or if it is established by use in Ethiopia.

Basically, there are two general parameters of determining eligibility of a trademark for registration. These are distinctiveness and non-descriptiveness. Distinctiveness refers to the capability of the trademark to distinguish goods or services of a person from others. Non-descriptiveness is another requirement of eligibility which suppose that a trademark shall not describe any characteristics like quality, kind, quantity, intended purpose, value or geographical origin of goods or services for which it is assigned. Thus, any trademark must be distinctive and non-descriptive to become eligible for registration from the outset.  

There are also other factors which determine the admissibility of a trademark beside with the general eligibility criteria. The Ethiopian trademark law has ruled the following trademarks inadmissible for registration.

  • a trademarks consisting sound or smell.
  • a trademark that is contrary to public order and morality
  • a trademark consisting exclusively of signs or indications which have become customary in the current language use in relation to such goods or services for which the registration of a trademark is sought or which have become customary in economic and business activities.
  • a trademark consisting exclusively of a shape which results from the nature of the good itself or that is necessary to obtain a technical result of the good or that gives substantial value to the good
  • a trademark that is likely to mislead the public or the business community, in particular as regards the geographical origin of the goods or services concerned or their nature or characteristics
  • unless authorized by a competent authority, a trademark which is identical with or an imitation of or contains an armorial bearing, flag or other emblem, a name or abbreviation or initials of the name, or official sign or hallmark adopted by any state, intergovernmental organization, or other organization created by international conventions.
  • a trademark that consists exclusively the surname of the applicant.
  • a trademark that consists exclusively the full name of an alive individual without his consent.

Trademark application is filed to Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office by completing the application form prepared by the Office. One application shall be made for a single trademark. The application shall be accompanied by the following documents;

  • three copies of a reproduction of the trademark.
  • a list of goods and services classified in accordance with the international classification of goods and services for which registration of the mark is requested and the class numbers of the classification.
  • business license of the applicant.
  • an agent domiciled in Ethiopia for foreign applicants.
  • power of attorney, in case where the application is filed by an agent.

The owner of a registered trademark has the right to use or authorize any other person to use the trademark in relation to any goods or services for which it has been registered. The owner of such trademark has the right to preclude others from the following acts;

  • any use of a trademark or a sign resembling it in such a way as to be likely to mislead the public for goods or services in respect of which the trademark is registered, or for other goods or services in connection with which the use of the mark or sign is likely to mislead the public.
  • any use of a trademark, or a sign resembling it, without just cause and in conditions likely to be prejudicial to his interests and;
  • other similar acts.

Trademark protection has no time limit unlike other intellectual property rights. However, its protection is subjected to periodic renewal of registration which is seven year under the Ethiopian law.