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19 June 2024TrademarksSofia Araújo, Inventa

Trademark protection in Ethiopia: A practical guide

The country’s location and infrastructure projects paint a compelling picture for investors, so what’s the situation for brands? Sofia Araújo of Inventa explains. 

Nestled in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is a landlocked country of rich history and cultural diversity that captivates with its vast landscapes and profound influence in the region. Sharing borders with Eritrea to the north, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, and Kenya to the south, Ethiopia's geographical position makes it a hub of regional connections.

Its western border with Sudan underscores its significance in East African geopolitics, while South Sudan lies to the southwest, further highlighting Ethiopia's pivotal role in shaping the dynamics of the continent.

Economic overview and market opportunities

With a population surpassing 120 million and its strategic location, Ethiopia offers a substantial consumer base and a wealth of opportunities across various sectors. Key economic areas such as agriculture, mineral resources, textiles, energy, and technology are particularly attractive to investors.

The evolving economic landscape, coupled with ambitious infrastructural developments such as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and extensive road networks, positions the country as a hotspot for investment. Recent economic reforms and initiatives aimed at improving the business climate further bolster Ethiopia's appeal as an investment destination.

International treaties and protocols

Ethiopia has not signed several major IPR treaties, such as the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) copyright treaty, the Berne Convention for Literary and Artistic Works, the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks, and the Patent Cooperation Treaty. The government expressed its intention to accede to the Berne Convention, Paris Convention, Marrakesh Protocol and Madrid Protocol, and currently Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) is drafting a ratification proclamation.

Trademark registration requirements

To apply for a trademark in Ethiopia, the applicant must submit:

  • Legalised power of attorney up to an Ethiopian consulate (original is required);
  • Certified or notarised copy of the certificate of incorporation with verified English translation; OR
  • Certified or notarised copy of the business license with verified English translation in which the business purpose is mentioned, provided that it matches the products for which the trademark shall be filed; OR
  • Certified or notarised copy of the registration certificate of the trademark in a different jurisdiction, exactly as it shall be filed in Ethiopia.

No late filing is available in Ethiopia thus, all originals must be submitted at filing stage.

Registration process

The application process consists of:

  • Filing the request before the PTO and issuance of the application filing receipt;
  • Formal and substantial exam conducted by the PTO;
  • Publication of Notice of Invitation for Opposition in the IP Bulletin or national newspaper;
  • 60 days period for the filing of oppositions by third parties who consider themselves adversely affected by the registration of the trademark;
  • Issuance of the registration certificate.

While not mandatory, performing a preliminary search before registering a trademark in Ethiopia is highly recommended. This proactive step helps applicants identify potential conflicts and ensures a smoother registration process.

Validity and non-use

A trademark in Ethiopia is valid for consecutive periods of seven years from the date of application. Applicants need only submit a power of attorney legalised up to an Ethiopian consulate to file a renewal. There is a continuous non-use period of three years from the granting date, after which the mark may be subject to cancellation.


During the lifespan of a trademark, it may be necessary to amend the initially filed registration due to changes in the applicant or its details. Accurate information is crucial as unrecorded information before the registry is not enforceable against third parties. The following services are available provided that the formal requirements are met:

  • Recordal of Assignment: Requires a power of attorney and deed of assignment or other instrument of title, both legalised up to an Ethiopian consulate with verified English translations.
  • Recordal of Change of Name: Requires a power of attorney and certificate of change of name, both legalised up to an Ethiopian consulate with verified English translations.
  • Recordal of Change of Address: Requires a power of attorney and certificate of change of address, both legalised up to an Ethiopian consulate with verified English translations.

Ethiopia stands as a compelling destination for investors keen on capitalising on its burgeoning market potential. As the nation continues its trajectory of economic growth and development, savvy investors recognising the strategic advantages stand to benefit from a dynamic market poised for innovation and prosperity.

Sofia Araújo is IP Legal Consultant at Inventa. She can be contacted at saraujo@inventa.com