Ghana amending trademarks law

Thus, Parliament is currently considering the Trademarks Amendment Bill, 2013 that seeks to fine-tune the existing Trademarks Act, 2004 (Act 664) to counter the rising menace of piracy of trademarks of Ghanaian innovations and products and to prevent unfair business competition for Ghanaian goods.

According to Ghana’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, who moved a motion for the second reading of the Bill on the floor of Parliament on Wednesday, said the amendments would incorporate new trends into the existing law and create uniformity in the registration of trademarks in the country.

She said the Bill would eliminate all variances with trade related aspects of intellectual property rights and enable Ghana fulfill all international obligations on trademarking.

The Bill seeks to give the Justice Minister the authority to make provisions to give effect to some of the obligations of the country under the Madrid Protocol and other Treaties.

It also seeks to create a single system with respect to the renewal of trademarks and the repeals and savings provisions of the same law in respect of renewal periods for the registration of trademarks in the country.

The report of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Amendment Bill observed that under Trademarks Act 2004, Act (664), trademarks are registered without recourse to goods and services to which they are applicable.

But the Bill under consideration makes it obligatory on any person registering a trademark to attach to the application, a reproduction of the trademark and the a list of goods and services for which the registration of the trademark is required in order to introduce clarity and clear doubts on the identity of goods or services covered by trademark.

The report also noted with concern the activities of people who pirated other people’s trademarks by introducing similar and identical signs with intent to deceive the public.

The Bill makes a new provision to criminalize such conduct and prescribes penalties.

The new offence relates to applying a sign identical to a registered trademark to goods with intent to sell the goods for purposes of labeling, packaging or advertising.

Ghana enacted the Trademarks Act, 1963 (Act 270) to provide for the protection of trademarks and for other related matters. The law almost four decades in operation was replaced by the enactment of the Trademarks Act, 2004, (Act 664).

The enactment updated and incorporated some provisions of trade related aspects of intellectual property rights agreement into the laws of Ghana.

The overall purpose of trademark law is to prevent unfair competition by protecting the use of a symbol, word, logo, slogan, design and domain name that uniquely distinguishes the goods or services of a firm.

This law protects consumers by prohibiting companies from using trademarks substantially similar to those of other companies that may have more “brand equity” and customer loyalty.

Trademark law is intended to avoid consumer confusion and preventing companies from diluting the marks of other firms. Dilution occurs when a similar mark adversely affects the reputation of a distinctive trademark regardless if it leads to consumer confusion or not.


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