Towards the Harmonisation of Trade Mark Laws in Africa: A Comparative Analysis of Selected Infringement Provisions

Authors Yeukai Mupangavanhu

ISSN: 2521-2605
Affiliations: Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape
Source: Journal of Comparative Law in Africa, Volume 2 Issue 2, p. 98 – 126


The lack of coherence in negotiations for intellectual property protection, including trade marks, in part due to differences in the relevant legislation, is a factor that undermines Africa’s regional economic development. Economic integration cannot progress when the laws are divergent since disparities may hinder the flow of goods and services. The article examines an aspect of the trade mark laws of selected African countries, namely South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Cameroon, with a view to making suggestions for their integration into a single regional law. In order to determine the similarities and differences in the laws, the infringement provisions and their interpretation in case law are analysed. This article attempts to demonstrate that a regional approach can only realise its full potential if it is based on a clear understanding of the areas of convergence and divergence in Africa’s trade mark laws. The similarities in the trade marks laws are important since they form an existing basis for harmonisation while the divergent provisions must then be harmonised. It is argued that an effective trade mark protection system is necessary to promote the free movement of goods and services, and to attract foreign direct investment — which is important for Africa to remain competitive.