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Patent Law and Patenting Procedures in Tanzania


I. INTRODUCTION A patent is a document, issued, upon application, by a government office (or a regional office acting for several countries), which describes an invention and creates a legal situation in which the patented invention can normally only be exploited (manufactured, used, sold, imported) with the authorization of the owner of the patent. The protection conferred by the patent is limited in time (generally 20 years).1 II. TANZANIAN LAW ON PATENTS AND RELEVANT INSTITUTIONS Patents provide a means for protecting the physical embodiments of certain classes of new and useful inventions. Patents are the broadest form of intellectual property protection, encompassing not only the precise machine or process invented, but also variant machines or processes that may employ the underlying concept of the invention. In Tanzania Patent is preserved or protected by the Patent Act, [CAP 217 R.E. 2002]. This Act among others establishes the Patents Office and its functions include: a) To grant Patents under the Patent Act. b) To promote inventiveness among nationals of the United Republic. c) To establish and operate a Patent documentation centre for the purpose of dissemination of information on Patents. d) To collaborate with other bodies whether local or international whose functions relate to Patent matters

WIPO intellectual Property Law Handbook, 2nd Edition 2004 available at accessed on 15 June 2013. 1

Patent Law and Patenting Procedures in Tanzania

e) To provide information on patented technology so as to facilitate transfer and acquisition of technology by the United Republic of Tanzania. f) To perform such other functions as are necessary for the furtherance of the objects of this Act. The following persons have the right to patent: a) An inventor or a traditional knowledge holder, in view of protecting the system b) If two or more persons have jointly made an invention the right to the Patent shall belong to them jointly. c) If and to the extent to which two or more persons have made the saving Invention independently of each other, the person who made earliest application shall have the right to the Patent. d) The right to a Patent may be assigned, or transferred by succession. The Inventor shall be named in the Patent, unless in a special written declaration addressed to the Registrar he indicates that he wishes not to be named.

For a Patent to be registrable, it should posses the following qualities: a) The invention should be new and must not be too obvious b) The invention should be of practical use c) The invention should have an inventive step THE PATENT REGISTRATION PROCESS III. How to Apply for a Patent

Patent Law and Patenting Procedures in Tanzania

The inventor or any person who has a right over an invention files a patent application with the office of the Registrar of Patents.

It is important to do a prior search on the specific system that the patent applicant wants to protect, in order to acknowledge prior registered patents at TIPASIC (Tanzanian Intellectual property advisory services and information centre).

The Patent application should contain a title of the invention, description of the invention, stating the technical field under which the invention falls. The description should be in clear language to be understood by a person with average understanding in the field such that they can work on the invention basing on the description. More elaboration such as drawings should be made and should also state what is claimed in the invention.

Application for grant of Patent has to be made to the Registrar of Patent by filling the prescribed forms, which are a request, a description, more drawings (where necessary) and an as follows: one or more claims, one or

abstract. These different items are detailed

a) The Request. Shall state the name of and the prescribed data concerning the applicant; The inventor and the agent if any; The title of the invention/specific traditional knowledge.

Patent Law and Patenting Procedures in Tanzania

Where a person making an application is not the inventor or the traditional knowledge holder, the patent request shall be accompanied by a Sworn Declaration. This declaration is to the effect that the person the patent. making the application has a right to

The appointment of an agent shall be indicated by his designation in request or by furnishing a Power of Attorney signed by the person making application. b) Description. It shall disclose the invention/traditional knowledge in a manner, which is sufficiently clear and it shall be completed by a person skilled in the Art. It shall indicate the processes of production the invention. c) The claim. It shall define the matter for which protection is sought. d) The abstract. It shall serve as technical information, but not purposely to protect the scope of the protection sought. for the invention. It shall include drawings/photographs, which are essential for understanding









Patent Law and Patenting Procedures in Tanzania

Patents under an international application are filed in accordance with the Patent Cooperation Treaty2 and its regulations are summarized hereunder. International Patent Applications have to be filed in the Patents Office of the Ministry of Industry of Tanzania, which shall act as a receiving office. The Patents office acts as a designated office 3. International Patent Applications can also be filed in the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva.

The functions of a Patents office shall be performed in accordance with the provisions of the Patent Cooperation Treaty, and with the provisions of the Patent Act and the regulations pertaining thereto and in case of conflict, the provisions of Patent Cooperation Treaty shall prevail.

International applications shall be searched or examined in order to establish whether it is new or if it has not been anticipated by prior art. This should be presented as an international search report. A patent application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty shall be enforced in the designated countries selected by the applicant. The Patent is granted when the patent application conforms to the laws in the selected countries. Furthermore, there is the Africa Region Intellectual property

Organization (ARIPO) situated in Harare, Zimbabwe which acts as a


The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international patent law treaty, concluded in 1970. It provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications to protect inventions in each of its contracting States (Tanzania being of these States).

This is stated in the Patent Act (Cap 217): it provides for the function of patent office to act as designated office in the case of any international application in which the country is designed or elected.

Patent Law and Patenting Procedures in Tanzania

regional office for the protection of Intellectual Property. Therefore international Patents can be filed through the Patent Cooperation Treaty or through ARIPO (when seeking protection in ARIPOs signatory countries)


LIFETIME OF A PATENT A Patent shall expire at the end of the tenth year after the date of the filling of the application. However, when a granted period of ten year has expired the application can be renewed on the request of the patent owner. This request can be presented not more than 12 months and not less than one month before the expiration of the patent. For this, the owner of the patent will have to prove to the Registrar that: The invention or patent is being worked in the United Republic of Tanzania at invention. If these two conditions are fulfilled, the owner of Patent has to pay the prescribed fee and the Registrar shall extend the term for a period of five years. In order to maintain the application or the patent, an annual fee has to be paid plus an additional fee of annual increase each year the patent gets older, shall be paid in advance to the Registrar starting with the second year after the date of filling the application. the date of request. There are no legitimate reasons for failing to work with the

Patent Law and Patenting Procedures in Tanzania

A grace period of six months shall be granted for the payment of the annual fee upon payment of a surcharge whose amount shall be fixed by the regulations. The application shall be deemed to have been withdrawn or Patent shall lapse if an annual fee is not paid, and the said lapse shall forthwith be published by the Registrar. If the patent has been withdrawn, any interested person within twelve months from the expiration of the grace period may request the Registrar to restore an application that is deemed to have been withdrawn or a patent that has lapsed. The Registrar shall make an order restoring the application or the patent, if the Patent holder certifies, with supporting documents, that the failure to pay the annual fee was unintentional and all annual fees due have been paid. Any interested person may appeal to the Court against the decision of the Registrar granting or refusing to grant a request for restoration.

VI. CHANGING THE OWNERSHIP OR JOINT OWNERSHIP OF PATENTS Change in ownership of applications and patents must be done in writing and signed by the different parties. Any changes must be recorded in the patent register in accordance with the Patent regulations. With no agreement to the contrary between the parties, joint owners of the application or patent, may separately transfer their shares, exploit the patented invention or knowledge, and preclude any person from exploiting, but may jointly grant permission to any third person to do any of the acts.

Patent Law and Patenting Procedures in Tanzania









INVENTIONS AGAINST INFRINGEMENT The law on patent provides that any act performed by a person other than the owner or process shall of patent and without authorization in relation to a product constitute the infringement of the patent.

On the request of the owner of the patent, the Court shall grant the following relieves: injunction to prevent infringement, or to prohibit the

a) An

continuation of infringement. b) Damages c) Any other remedy provided for in the civil law. Any person who intentionally infringes a Patent shall be guilty of an offense and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding five hundred thousands shillings or to a term of imprisonment of five years or to both. Moreover, the person should declare forfeiture of the goods made through the infringement of that Patent. Maximum penalties shall be doubled in the event of recidivism on the above-mentioned offense. VIII. CONCLUSION The protection of intellectual property in Tanzania, though in its infant stages provides for a comprehensive mechanism through which individual can protect the creations of their minds. Tanzanian law also provides for the protection of other works under various intellectual property laws. Such protection plays a double role of works and acting as an incentive to be creative. protecting such

Patent Law and Patenting Procedures in Tanzania

DISCLAIMER: As will be appreciated, the applicability of any legal principle or strategy to any factual scenario is highly dependent upon the specific facts of that scenario. This article is not intended to provide legal advice. Individuals having specific questions or issues pertaining to intellectual property are advised to seek legal counsel. This article may be freely reproduced in any medium, provided that it is not truncated, abridged, or altered in any respect, and further provided that all attribution is retained.