Provides advice on IPR protection, including information on the registration of patents and trademarks.
The Ministry of Commerce is responsible for patents and copyrights in Gabon. Gabon is a member of the African Intellectual Property Office (OAPI), based in Yaoundé, Cameroon. OAPI aims to ensure the publication and protection of patent rights, encourage creativity, transfer technology, and create favorable conditions for research.
As a member of OAPI, Gabon acceded to international agreements on patents and intellectual property, including the Paris Convention, the Berne Convention, and the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization. Granting patents is based on a first-to-file, first-in-right basis. Similarly, registering trademarks is based on a first-to-file, first-in-right basis, so you should consider how to obtain patent and trademark protection before introducing your products or services to the Gabon market. It is vital that companies understand that intellectual property is primarily a private right, and that the U.S. government cannot enforce rights for private individuals in Gabon.
Rights’ holders have the responsibility to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors. Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants who are experts in Gabonese law. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of local lawyers: https://ga.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/attorneys/. It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on potential partners. A good partner is an important ally in protecting IP rights. Consider carefully, however, whether to permit your partner to register your IP rights on your behalf. Doing so may create a risk that your partner will list itself as the IP owner and fail to transfer the rights should the partnership end.
Keep an eye on your cost structure and reduce the margins (and the incentive) of would-be bad actors. Projects and sales in Gabon require constant attention. Work with legal counsel familiar with Gabonese laws to create a solid contract that includes non-compete clauses and confidentiality/non-disclosure provisions.
Small and medium-size companies also are encouraged to understand the importance of working together with trade associations and organizations to support efforts to protect IP and prevent counterfeiting. There are a number of these organizations, including:
The U.S. Chamber and local American Chambers of Commerce
National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA)
International Trademark Association (INTA)
The Coalition against Counterfeiting and Piracy International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC)
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)
IP Resources: A wealth of information on protecting IP is freely available to U.S. rights holders. In any foreign market, companies should consider several general principles for effective protection of their intellectual property. For background, link to our article on Protecting Intellectual Property and Stopfakes.gov for more resources.
Gabon is not covered by an IP attaché. Check the IP Attaché Program | USPTO to find the nearest Attaché and their contact details. The State Department’s Investment Climate Statements are also a great resource that include much information on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in foreign economies.
For the latest Investment Climate Statement (ICS) for Gabon, which includes information on intellectual property protection, visit the U.S. Department of Department of State’s Investment Climate Statements website.