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Editor-in-Chief,   Anatole Krattiger

Editorial Board

Concept Foundation


Fiocruz, Brazil

bioDevelopments-   Institute

Intellectual Property in the Republic of Ghana

Researched and compiled by Betsy Boatemaa Ampofo (Student at Cornell University), with Anatole Krattiger (Arizona State University, Cornell University and bioDevelopments LLC). Last updated on 24 September 2009.

General Information about IP in Ghana
Utility Patents
Plant Variety Protection
Trade secrets
Access to Genetic Resources / Biodiversity
Indigenous/Traditional Knowledge
Geographic Indications

If you are knowledgeable in the field of IP in Ghana and have additional and/or updated information regarding IP in Ghana, please add your comments at the end of this page or contact us at We will be glad to update this page with your help and inputs.

1.      General Information about IP in Ghana

1.1       Membership of International Treaties and Conventions related to IP

1.2       Main IP Offices

  • Ministry of Justice: Registrar General’s Department, P.O. Box 118, Accra,

(No Website Found)
Tel.: +233-21-66 46 91
Fax: +233-21-22 82 90

  • ARIPO: 11 Natal Road, P.O. Box 4228, Belgravia, Harare , Zimbabwe

  • Copyright Office, Ministry of Culture, Greater Accra Regional Administration Compound (adjacent to Teacher’s Hall) off Barnes Road, Accra,

(No Website Found)

TEL: +233-21-666049/662264
FAX: +233-21-666828

  • Industrial Property Tribunal, Judicial Service, P.O. Box 119, Accra

1.3       Selected Law Firms

1.4       Background on the legal Environment

Researching Ghanaian Law by Victor Essien

1.5       Other relevant resources

See CLEA Website of WIPO

2.      Utility Patents

2.1       General Information

The law requires inventions to be new, involve an inventive step and industrially applicable. The term for patents is 20 years from date of application (10 years for Industrial Property).

Patent protection is obtainable via a national filing in Ghana or by way of an ARIPO application. Ghana is also a member of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and WTO.

The law also establishes a system of utility certificates to encourage local inventiveness.

  • Patent Searching

A patent searching website is in development. At the moment, patent searches can be conducted by the Registrar General’s department upon request.

  • Patentability

Invention mean a solution to a specific problem in the field of technology. An invention may be, or may relate to, a product or a process. The following shall not be regarded as inventions:

-   Discoveries, scientific and mathematical theories;
-   Plant or animal varieties or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals, other than microbiological processes and the products of such processes;
-   Schemes, rules or methods for doing business, performing purely mental acts or playing games;
-   Methods of treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy, as well as diagnostic methods; this provision shall not apply to products for use in any of these methods;
-   Mere presentation of information;
-   Computer programs.

For textile designs, which are protected by the Textile Designs Registration Decree 1973 NRCD 213: A textile design means any pattern, ornamental feature applied to a textile article by printing, weaving or other similar process. A textile article means any article made from natural, man-made or synthetic fibers or from a combination. Such a registration is valid for a maximum period of 15 years and can be filed through ARIPO or directly in Ghana.

Diagnostics, therapeutics and surgical methods for the treatment of humans and animals are not patentable. However products for use in any such methods may be patented.

WIPO reinforced its cooperation with Ghana by signing an intellectual property (IP) development plan in 2008 which aims to build the country’s capacity to create, protect and utilize IP as a power tool for economic growth and development.

2.2       Licensing Restrictions

  • Compulsory Licenses

Compulsory licenses for non-working and similar reasons:

-   At any time after four years from the filing date of an application or three years from the grant of a patent whichever period last expires, any person may, in proceedings instituted by him against the owner of the patent or in proceedings instituted against him by the said owner, request the court to grant a compulsory license on any of the following grounds-

o   That a patented invention, which is capable of being worked in the country has not been so worked;
o   That the existing degree of working of the patented invention in the country does not meet on reasonable terms the demand for the patented product on the domestic market or for purposes of exportation;
o   That the working of the patented invention in the country is being hindered or prevented by the importation of the patented product; or
o   That, by reason of the refusal by the owner of the patent to grant licenses on reasonable terms, the establishment or development of industrial or commercial activity in the country, or the possibilities of exportation from the country, are unfairly and substantially prejudiced.

-   Where the patented invention is a process, “patented product” in subsection (1) of this section means a product obtained directly by means of the process.
-   A compulsory license shall not be granted in respect of a patent if the owner of the patent satisfies the court that his actions in relation to the patented invention are justifiable in the circumstances.
-   Compulsory licenses for products and processes declared to be of vital importance
-   The Secretary may by legislative instrument direct that, for patented inventions concerning certain kinds of products, or processes for the manufacture of such products declared to be of vital importance to the defense, economic or public health interests of Ghana, compulsory licenses may ‘be granted.
-   Compulsory licenses with respect to any product or process specified in subsection (1) of this section may be granted at any time after the grant of the relevant patent by the Tribunal in proceedings instituted against or by the owner of patent.

  • Licenses of Right

-   Where a vital public interest, in particular, national security, health or the development of vital sectors of the national economy requires that one or more acts referred to in section 28 of this Law be performed with respect to a patented invention, the Secretary responsible for Justice may decide that the patented invention shall, even in the absence of the authorization of the owner of the patent, be exploited by a government agency or by a third person designated by the Secretary, subject to the payment of remuneration to the owner of the patent.

-   The Secretary shall take his decision after consultation with the Patent Policy Committee, except in the case of national security, and after a hearing to which the owner of the patent and any licensee in particular shall be invited.

-   Upon the Secretary taking the decision, the Registrar shall determine the amount of the remuneration to be paid to the owner of the patent, such remuneration being equitable have regard to all the circumstances of the case.

-   The owner of the patent may appeal to the courts against the decision of the Registrar on the amount of the remuneration, but such an appeal shall not stay the effect of the decision referred to in subsection (1) of this section.

3.      Trademarks

Ghana is a party to the Madrid Protocol since 2008.

3.1       General Information

  • Merchandise Marks Act No. 253 of 1964 (No Website Found)
  • Trade Marks Act No. 270 of 1965 repealed by TRADE MARKS ACT, 2004 (ACT 664) (No Website Found)

Trademarks are registered by the Registrar of Trademarks. The term of protection is 10 years from the filing date and renewals shall be for consecutive periods of 10 years.

Under Section 9, the scope of protection is extended to cover the use of a sign similar to the registered mark and use in relation to goods or services similar to those for which the mark has been registered. The same section also provides for international exhaustion and provides criminal penalties for intentional infringement of a mark.

The requirements for filing a trademark application are as follows:

  1. The full name/address/description of the applicant.
  2. The mark (word mark or label) and a list of goods/classes for which the trademark should be protected.
  3. Ten (10) prints of the mark (for marks in a special form or device marks). The prints must not exceed 10 cm x 10cm. If the mark is registered in more than one class, then two additional representations of the mark for each class must be supplied.
  4. It is possible to register a series of trademarks and four representations of each mark must be included in the application.
  5. A Power of Attorney simply executed by the applicant company.
  6. A certified true copy of a priority document if the applicant is claiming priority.
  7. No legislation or notarization is required.


Once the mark is examined, the applicant is advised on whether the mark has been accepted or refused registration. The trademark examiner issues a filing receipt number within six weeks from the date of the application. During this time the Registrar also examines the application and informs the applicant whether the trademark has been for registration.

Non Use:

A trade mark may be removed from the register by any person aggrieved on the grounds that, up to one month before the date of the request a continuous period of five (5) years or longer has elapsed during which there was no bona fide use of the mark or on the grounds that the mark was registered without any bona fide intention on the part of the applicant to use the trademark.

3.2       Distinct Information

Ghana is a member of the Paris Union. However, it has not yet published a Convention Countries Order concerning trademarks and it is not possible, therefore, to claim convention priority.

The definition of “trade mark” includes goods or services.

A separate application is required for each class of goods or services.

Under Section 5, a mark which is likely to mislead the public or trade circles with particular reference to the geographical origin of the goods or services or their nature or characteristics may not be registered. The section also contains provisions regarding well-known marks aimed at complying with obligations under the TRIPS Agreement.

Under Section 15, changes of ownership of the trademark or of an application for registration of a trademark may be filed and recorded

Exclusions from Registration: a) Symbols/marks that are similar to the national flag or national emblem, military flags or any decoration of a republic/country; b) Symbols/marks related to politics; c)  Scandalous matter or matter contrary to law or morality; symbol/mark likely to deceive or cause confusion; d) Generic names; e) Defensive trademarks can be registered under the Act.

Notice of registration by use of the legend ‘Registered Trade Mark’ or suitable abbreviation (eg. ‘Regd. Tm.’) or symbol ® optional.

3.3       Licensing restrictions

No license contract is valid against third parties or beneficial to the owner unless it has been filed at the TradeMarks Office. This requires a Power of Attorney from the trademark proprietor and from the licensee, a Declaration and Statement of Case, with verified English translation, and the complete License Agreement, with verified English translation. Note that the license agreement must provide for quality control by the licensor.

4.      Plant Variety Protection

Ghana does not provide for plant variety protection. Draft legislation on the Protection of Plant Varieties is reported to being developed.

5.      Trade secrets

Ghana does not have a laws for the protection of Trade Secrets, except for the protection of know how through contract law.

However, a bill (called the “RTI Bill) is under development and/or consideration that would exempt “from disclosure confidential information which would reveal a trade secret or which relates to research, scientific, technical or commercial subjects or to labour where the disclosure of the information would prejudice the economic or financial interests of a person or group of persons.” See Ghanaweb.

6.      Access to Genetic Resources / Biodiversity

6.1       General Information

Ghana ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1994 and established a National Focal Point/Clearing-House Mechanism.

The country is part of a UNEP initiative on the implementation of Access and Benefit Sharing legislation.

Ghana is also a signatory to the following Conventions related to biodiversity:

6.2       Distinct Information

Legislations affecting biodiversity conservation in Ghana

Export Restrictions are contained in the  Export & Import Act of 1995 (Act 503). The law makes a distinction between the export of traditional and non-traditional items. Traditional exports include:

  • Cocoa Beans
  • Logs and Lumber
  • Unprocessed gold (Bullion) and other minerals
  • Fresh Fish

Not allowed for export are goods prohibited by any law in Ghana and parrots.

The requirements for traditional exports are:

  • Register with the Ghana Export Promotion Council
  • Obtain Bank of Ghana Exchange Control Form A2 from the Bank of Ghana or any of the accredited Commercial Banks.
  • Complete CUSTOMS BILL OF ENTRY popularly known as the Single Administrative Document (S.A.D.) Form.
  • Instruction for Dispatch of Goods (IDG) from the Airline
  • Packing list
  • Invoice
  • Get the requisite permit/Certificates as follows:-

-   Cocoa Beans - Fumigation and Quality Assurance Certificate from Quality Control Division of Cocobod.
-   Logs and Lumber- Permit From Forest Products Inspection Bureau (FPIB)
-   Minerals - Permit from Minerals Commission
-   Fresh Fish - Quality Assurance Certificate from Ghana Standards Board.

Non-traditional exports require special permits. Such non-traditional exports are:

  • All antiques (need a permit from Museums and Monuments Board)
  • Precious Minerals (Precious Minerals Marketing Corporation)
  • Wildlife (Department of Game and Wildlife)
  • Live Plants (Ministry of Agriculture)

7.      Indigenous/Traditional Knowledge

No information available on legislative aspects.

8.      Geographic Indications

A draft legislation on Geographical Indications is reported to be in preparation and soon to be submitted to Parliament.

The information contained on this page is for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Contact local legal counsel for a determination of the best course of action for your case.