Let us answer your general questions about the Attorney General's Chambers and the Ministry of Justice.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General is Dawda A. Bah
Intellectual property is the intangible creation of the human mind. It seeks to protect the interests of the innovator and creators by giving them rights over their creation.
Intellectual property is divided into two main branches, namely Industrial Property and Copyright.
Industrial property is the category of intellectual property that relates to –
- utility model,
- industrial designs,
- trademarks and service marks,
- layout-designs of integrated circuits,
- geographical indications
- protection against unfair competition etc.
A patent is a title or protection granted to an inventor to protect an invention in exchange for the inventor to disclose the patent information. An invention is an idea of an inventor which provides solution to specific problem in the field of technology. An invention can be related to a product or a process.
The right to the patent generally belongs to the inventor. This can be a natural person or a legal entity, for example a research center.
Patent protection lasts for twenty (20) years from the date of filing.
Utility model otherwise known as petit patent is the exclusive right granted to protect inventions that provide minor scientific improvement to a patent. The registration procedures for utility model are simple, registration fees are lower and the lifespan is shorter.
Utility model protection in The Gambia is for a period of ten (10) years from the date of filing.
A patent application may be converted into utility model certificate before at any time before patent protection is granted. Similarly, a utility model certificate may be converted into patent application at any time before the protection is granted. These conversions are accepted subject to payment of the necessary fees.
An industrial design is a composition of lines or colors or any three- dimensional form that gives a special appearance to a product of industry or handicraft. It protects the aesthetic appearance of a product. Aesthetic appeals most of the times influences consumers taste for choice of products.
An industrial design is registrable if it is new.
The registration of an industrial design shall be valid for a period of five years from the filing date of the application for registration. The registration may be renewed for two further consecutive periods of five years on the payment of the prescribed fees.
A trademark is a visible sign capable of distinguishing the goods (“trademark”) or services (“service marks”) of an enterprise from the others. A trademark could be a sign, letter, numerical, picture, shape, mark, sound or smell etc.
Collective marks are used to distinguish the origin or any other common characteristics, including the quality, of goods or service of different enterprises which use the sign under the control of the registered owner of the collective mark.
Services mark are signs used by service providers to distinguish one service from another. Service marks are used by GSM Companies, airlines, hotels, restaurants etc.
A mark must be distinctive and must not be descriptive.
A mark cannot be registered if-
it is incapable of distinguishing the goods and services of one enterprise from those of another; if the mark is against public morality;
it is likely to misled the public or trade circles, in particular as regards the geographical origin of the goods or services concerned or their nature or characteristics;
it is identical with or, is an imitation of, or contains as an element, an armorial bearing, flag, and other emblem, a name or abbreviation or initial of the name of, or official sign or hallmark adopted by, any State, inter- governmental organization or organization created by an international Convention, unless authorized by the competent authority if the State or organization;
it is identical with or confusingly similar to or constitute a translation if, a mark or trade name which is well known in The Gambia for identical or similar goods or service of another enterprise;
it is identical with a mark belonging to a different proprietor and already on the register, or with an earlier filing or prior date, in respect of the same goods or services or closely related goods or services, or
it so nearly resembles such a mark as to be likely to deceive or cause confusion.
The registration of a mark shall be valid for a period of ten years from the filing date and can be renewed and maintained forever, provided the prescribed renewal fees are paid.
All industrial property applications should be filed at the Industrial Property office, Ministry of Justice, Banjul.
Copyright is the category of intellectual property that relates to –
- literary and artistic creations, such as books, music, paintings and sculptures, films
- technology-based works (such as computer programs and electronic databases).
For a work to be protected as copyright it must be:
- Original in character. This means that it must be the independent effort of the author.
- It must be fixed in definite medium of expression.
The duration of protection for –
- copyright is the lifetime of the author plus fifty years after his death,
- applied art is twenty- five years from the making of the work,
- copyright in bodies corporate is fifty years from the date on which the work was made public,
- copyright in audiovisual works is fifty years from the date of its communication to the public,
- copyright in programme- carrying signals is fifty years from the date of the making of the signal,
- copyright in photographic work is fifty years from the date of the making of the work,
- copyright in folklore exist in perpetuity.
A person may make use of copyright material without authorization of the author for the following:
- Private use,
- Reporting of current event, but only short excerpts of a performance, sound recording, audiovisual work or broadcast may be used,
- Technical or scientific research; and
- Quotation in the form of short excerpts of a performance, sound recording, audiovisual work or broadcast, which are compatible with fair practice and are justified by the informative purpose of those quotations.
Protection for copyright is automatic once created. There is no filing procedure for copyright work. However, copyright owners are encouraged to voluntarily register their works evidence purposes.
Copyright works can be registered at the National Center for Arts and Culture in Banjul.