OAPI is the African Intellectual Property Organisation for French-speaking Africa. The member countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. Please note that it is not possible to obtain protection in any of these countries other than by way of an OAPI application.
OAPI is a member of the International Convention and of the PCT.
The requirements for filing a non-PCT application in OAPI are as follows:
a. Power of Attorney (simply signed) - can be late filed within 3 months of notification;
b. Specification, claims, drawings, and abstract in English or French - required on the day of filing;
c. Assignment of Invention - can be late filed within 6 months;
d. Assignment of Priority Rights - can be late filed within 6 months; and
e. Certified priority document with sworn and verified English or French translation, see notes below - can be late filed within 6 months.
With respect to item (e) above, the translation of the priority document must be accompanied by a signed declaration of the official translator which also carries a stamp or a seal. In the event that the translator does not have a stamp or a seal, notarised translations have in the past been accepted by OAPI.
The requirements for filing a PCT application in OAPI are as follows:
i. Power of Attorney (simply signed) - can be late filed within 3 months of notification;
ii. Specification, claims, drawings, and abstract in English or French - required on the day of filing;
iii. Assignment of Priority Rights - can be late filed within 6 months;
iv. Copy of PCT International advertisement - required on day of filing;
v. Copy of International Search Report - can be late filed, no set deadline; and
vi. Copy of International Preliminary Examination Report - can be late filed, no set deadline.
An OAPI application automatically designates all member states. The cost of filing an OAPI patent application is relatively high. At present, we estimate that the cost of filing in OAPI will be about US$ 4100.00 (including publication fees) for the first 10 claims and the first 10 pages of the specification. This excludes translation fees (if required), priority claim surcharges, surplus claim charges, surplus page charges, and outstanding annuity fees payable upon filing.
To the above must be added a charge of about US$ 270.00 for the first Convention claim to priority plus about US$ 170.00 for each additional priority claim.
Please note that exorbitant surcharges for claims in excess of 10 (about US$ 125.00 per claim) are payable and surcharges are also payable on the length of the specification, claims, and drawings (between 11 and 20 pages - about US$ 330.00, between 11 and 30 pages - about US$ 1130.00, between 11 and 40 pages - about US$ 2730.00, and between 11 and 50 pages - about US$ 2950.00; thereafter add about US$ 225.00 for each batch of 10 pages over 50). However, please note that it is possible to file a preliminary amendment to reduce the number of claims so as to reduce such claim surcharges.
Please also note that annuity fees are payable on pending applications, and are payable annually from the first anniversary of the filing date (which is deemed to be the international filing date for PCT applications) at a cost of about US$ 950.00 per year (for each of the first 5 years).