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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
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 editors@ipHandbook.org. 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
(No Website Found)
1.3 Selected Law Firms
1.4 Background on the legal Environment
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.
A patent searching website is in development. At the moment, patent searches can be conducted by the Registrar General’s department upon request.
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:
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 for non-working and similar reasons:
- 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.
Ghana is a party to the Madrid Protocol since 2008.
3.1 General Information
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:
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.
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
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
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:
Not allowed for export are goods prohibited by any law in Ghana and parrots.
The requirements for traditional exports are:
Non-traditional exports require special permits. Such non-traditional exports are:
7. Indigenous/Traditional Knowledge
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.