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IP experts have recently stated that the benefits of having trademark rights in Africa are already paying off. This material describes the main characteristics of the use of trademarks in African countries.

IP protection issues in Africa

It is believed that the improvement and establishment of domestic African trade should lead to better movement of goods between the countries of the continent and, consequently, economic growth.

Meanwhile, it is worth noting that the protection of intellectual property in Africa is still a matter of debate and much dissatisfaction on the part of international companies and organizations doing business in Africa. The mechanisms for regulating IP activities in African countries still need to be significantly improved.

African countries today face the challenges that Europe faced in the 1990s in consolidating its trade zone. At the same time, it will be much more difficult to overcome them, because the African market is much more diverse in terms of languages ​​and cultural differences. Holders of TM rights will have to accept the existing conditions for a long time and trust the existing systems together with their features.

TM registration in Africa allows business owners to protect their rights in the event of unfair use of a brand or product.

To illustrate the ongoing IP protection process in Africa, let us cite the example of the so-called Bavaria Babes case, which was widely publicized in the media.

The cause of the conflict was aggressive marketing activities during the World Cup. The International Football Federation has sued the German brewing company Bavaria for staging a banned advertising campaign during a football match. 36 women came to the Johannesburg stadium in short mini-dresses in a color similar to a package of Bavaria beer. At the same time, the brand was not an official sponsor of the World Cup and, therefore, such an action was a direct violation of FIFA rules, which prohibit all advertising other than advertising sponsors of the championship. Two Dutch nationals who were directly involved in the action were also brought to justice for violating South African trademark law.

Attention to this trial has not only provided a useful tool in the settlement discussions, but has also highlighted that an overly aggressive approach to IP protection in Africa can be counterproductive.


The African continental free trade area is expected to become operational in the coming years. To register a TM in Africa, please contact IQ Decision UK team. We also offer you to sign up for individual legal advice on TM dispute resolution in Asia and Africa.