A Patent is the legal title granted to protect an invention. An invention concerns a new
technical solution to solve a problem (Article 2(3) Proclamation) in industry or
agriculture or new technical means to alleviate the living conditions of human
A patent is granted if the invention is New, Involves an Inventive Step and is capable of being Applied in Industry (Article 3 Proclamation).
A Patent confers to its owner the right to exclude others from using and selling his/her invention in the country without the consent of the owner(s)) for the duration of initial 15 years from the date of filing in Ethiopia with a possibility of five years extension subject to use (Articles 16 and 22 Proclamation). However, the patent should be renewed every year by payment of a prescribed fee (Article 17 Proclamation).
The following shall not be patentable:
- Inventions contrary to public order or morality
- Plant or animal varieties or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals.
- Schemes, rules or methods for playing games or performing commercial and industrial activities and computer programmes.
- Discoveries scientific theories and mathematical methods.
- Methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy, as well as diagnostic methods practiced on the human or animal
According to Article 9(2) of the patent proclamation an application shall be made in writing and shall relate to one invention only. However, two or more inventions, belonging to a single general concept, may be filed as one application.
An application for a patent can only be filed in Amharic or English. Any documents that are filed in the language other than Amharic or English must be accompanied by translation into Amharic or English.
A foreign applicant is required to appoint Ethiopian Patent Agent to represent him in the proceeding of his application (Article 9(7) Proclamation).If an agent has been appointed, the application must indicate the name of the appointed Patent Agent and be accompanied by a power of attorney signed by each of the applicants (Article 9(8) Proclamation, Article 48 Regulation). The power of attorney must be filed within two months of the filing date of the application (Article 8 Regulation).
The applicant may claim the right of priority of the date of filing of an earlier application. The earlier application must be filed not more than 12 months before the filing date of the application in Ethiopia and the application claiming priority must be in respect of the same invention as the invention disclosed in the previous application. A copy of the earlier application must be filed, if necessary, with a translation (Article 11(2) Proclamation, Article 20 Regulation).
Yes! The office conducts both formality and substantive examination of the filed application.
No! Because patentable subject matter must be Novel, using your invention, publishing details of it, displaying in Exhibition or offering it for sale will destroy the ‘Novelty ‘of the invention and prevent you from obtaining a valid Patent.
Yes. The EIPO awards patents on a “first-to-file” basis. This means that if two inventors independently invent the same thing, and both apply for patents at different times, the EIPO will award the patent to the inventor who first files a patent application, regardless of who invented first.
Yes, if the invention was derived as a result of his/her employment in the course of his/her duties as an employee, then it is likely that the company owns that invention, and can validly apply for a patent on that invention. However, you still need to name the inventor(s) on your patent application. The same applies to commissioned work. The inventor(s) will also need to be named in your patent application for it to be valid.
No. Patents are granted by patent offices in exchange for a full disclosure of the invention. In general, the details of the invention are then published and made available to the public at large.
While it is certainly true that not all enterprises develop patentable inventions, it is a wrong to believe that patents only apply to complex physical or chemical processes and products or that they are only useful to large corporations. Patents can be obtained for any area of technology from paper clips to computers.
If you don’t patent your invention, competitors may well take advantage of it. If the product is successful, many other competitor firms will be tempted to make the same product by using your invention without needing to ask for your permission. Larger enterprises may take advantage of economies of scale to produce the product more cheaply and compete at a more favourable market price. This may considerably reduce your company’s market share for that product. Even small competing enterprises may be able to produce the same product, and often sell it at a lower price as they would not have to recoup the original research and development costs incurred by your company.
Not necessarily. A patent is the right to stop others from making, using or selling your invention. It does not necessarily mean you have the right to make, use or sell it yourself.
Someone else may have a patent which will stop you from making, using, or selling your invention (called a “dominating patent”) or your Patented invention might require approval from a regulating agency to make, use or offer for sell.
An application for a patent is both a legal and technical document which includes a recitation of the background of the invention, a brief summary of the invention, a brief description of the invention, a detailed description of the preferred embodiment, a set of claims, and an abstract. The application must describe the invention in such complete detail that it enables a person having ordinary skill in the art to both make and use the invention. It must also set forth the “best mode” of the invention. Some people believe that patents are dull, tedious reading – documents filled with legalese and excruciatingly detailed technical descriptions of inventions.
After the complete application is filed, it will be necessary for the applicant to request examination before the patent office starts the exam procedure by paying the search and examination fee. The examiner will then perform an investigation into novelty, inventive step, has utility and make sure the claims do not relate to excluded subject matter. This usually involves a search of the ‘prior art’ (i.e. what was known or used before the filing date or priority date) to assist in determining the novelty of the subject matter and whether it embodies an inventive step. The examiner may also check to ensure that procedural aspects of the legislation have been complied with, such as checking that the necessary forms and fees have been completed and paid. Examiners normally issue a report on their findings. Where objections have been raised, applicants will be given an opportunity to respond and/or amend their application. A number of reports may issue before the patent is finally accepted or rejected.
The drawings should allow clear illustration of how the features of the invention interact and highlight the essence of the invention. Photographs are not accepted as a replacement for drawings.
If you have made references to drawings in the application but file the drawings at a later date, the filing date will be deferred to the day of receipt of the drawings at the Office.
Patents expire because allowing them to last for too long places a constraint on others who want to improve upon existing technology. Current patent law allows inventors to recoup their investment and profit from their invention without slowing down innovation.
At present, you cannot obtain a universal “world patent” or “international patent”. Patents are territorial rights. In general, an application for a patent must be filed, and the patent granted and enforced, in each country in which you seek patent protection for your invention, in accordance with the law of that country. Therefore, one way of obtaining patents in a number of countries is to file a national patent application with each relevant national patent office or use the option to file an international application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) or regional routes such as EPO (European Patent Office), ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organization) or OIAP (African Intellectual Property Organization)
As Ethiopia is NOT a member of any patent related international or regional treaties therefore one can only file by applying in each country.
Patented inventions have, in fact, pervaded every aspect of human life, from electric lighting and plastic to ballpoint pens and microprocessors. Patents provide incentives to and protection for individuals by offering them recognition for their creativity and the possibility of material reward for their inventions. At the same time, the obligatory publication of patents and patent applications facilitates the mutually-beneficial spread of new knowledge and accelerates innovation activities by, for example, avoiding the necessity to “re-invent the wheel”.