Tanzania legislative development: trade and service marks

  • Legal Development 11 November 2021 11 November 2021
  • Africa

  • Intellectual Property

In this article, we analyse the amendments made to the Trade and Service Marks Act (the TSM Act¹) introduced by the 2021 Written Laws Miscellaneous Amendments Act (the Amendment Act²).

The TSM Act

The TSM Act is the principal legislation that governs Trade and Service Marks registration and protection in mainland Tanzania. The TSM Act introduced the Trade and Service Marks Office that is headed by the Registrar of Trade and Service Marks (the Registrar), who is appointed by the President. The TSM Act sets up the register of trade and service marks (the Register) which is maintained by the Registrar. The Registrar’s office is housed by the Business Registrations and Licensing Agency which has its Head Office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

A person shall enjoy exclusive rights to use a trade or service mark only if they have registered the same in accordance with the TSM Act. This enjoyment is subject to the term/duration of the registration and renewal as provided under the TSM Act. A person who has not registered a trade or service mark shall not be entitled to institute proceedings for the prevention or recovery of damages for the infringement thereof. We previously published an updater that addresses, among others, the benefits of registering a trademark. Please click here for more information.

The Amendment Act

Seal of the Registrar

According to the TSM Act, the Registrar shall maintain a seal or, in the absence thereof, a stamp which is approved by the Minister responsible for the Trade and Service Marks Office (the Minister). The Amendment Act provides that documents may also be sealed and signed electronically by an authorised officer.

Evidence in non-paper form

The TSM Act requires the entries of the Register to be proved by documents and copies that are certified in accordance with the Registrar’s directions. The Amendment Act further adds that the delivery of documents in the prescribed form to the Registrar as well as documents issued by the Registrar shall be sufficiently evidenced if the communication is done electronically i.e. in any non-paper form and in the prescribed manner.

Prospective regulations

The Amendment Act expands the scope within which the Minister may make regulations under the TSM Act. The Minister may now make regulations for endorsements and notification of undertakings of the Registrar and prescription of requisite information in non-paper form.

[1] The Trade and Service Marks Act, Cap. 326 of the Laws of Tanzania

[2] The Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 3) Act No. 5 of 2021


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