HARARE, March 3 (The Source) – Legislators yesterday asked Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to move the Deeds and Intellectual Trade Marks Office from the Ministry of Justice, which the VP superintends, over to the Industry and Commerce portfolio as the department has more to do with business registrations than legal ones.
This was after VP Mnangagwa brought the Madrid Protocol, which establishes a one stop solution for registering and managing marks worldwide, for approval in the National Assembly.
The system enables a trademark owner to protect a mark in multiple countries by filing one application, in one language. This will enable the Deeds and Intellectual Trade Marks Office to handle trademarks applications locally as part of improving ease of doing business in the country.
Mabvuku Tafara MP James Maridadi suggested that the department must be moved to the Industry and Commerce Ministry as its duties were purely commercial.
“Trade marks have everything to do with business and income and not law, and so the Deeds and Intellectual Trade Marks department must be housed under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce,” Maridadi said.
He said the five percent revenue retention allowed for the department was too little to enable them to be fully automated.
About 95 percent of intellectual property and trade marks registered under the African Regional Intellectual Property Office situated in Harare are said to be from international entities, while only five percent is from Africa.
“Currently, the African Regional Intellectual Property Office is sitting on 1,200 applications because of the absence of legislation. When the 1,200 applications go through it means more revenue for Treasury,” said Maridadi.
He said the Suppression of Witchcraft Act must be amended to allow for protection of trade marks of herbs used by traditional healers.
Nelson Chamisa, the Kuwadzana East MP said there is need to register geographical locations and industrial designs, which include brands like Katiyo and Tanganda teas that have become international brands.
“We have a lot of intellectual property in this country, but our people have not been educated to register them, and these include music like mbira, herbs, and indigenous knowledge so that we monetise and intellectualise our intellectual property,” said Chamisa.
Mnangagwa conceded that the Deeds and Intellectual Property department must fall under the Industry and Commerce department.
“Currently, the department is housed under the Ministry of Justice, but I am in total agreement that in future this department can be separated so that it is under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce,” the VP said.
The Madrid protocol was approved by the National Assembly and now awaits domestication to make it law.