Tanzania - Country Commercial Guide
Protecting Intellectual Property
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Intellectual property rights are designed to promote and protect the creations and inventions of the mind. Artistic and scientific innovations enjoy legal protection under the intellectual property rights.

It is worth noting that Tanzania is a member of the African Regional Intellectual property Organization (ARIPO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania allows ownership of intellectual property and guarantees its protection. To this end, laws have been enacted to promote and protect intellectual property rights.

Copyrights are regulated by Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act.5 The Copyright Society of Tanzania (COSOTA) is an institution that administers the registration of Copyrights. Copyright protection is available to works of authors who are nationals of or have their habitual residence in Tanzania.

It is worthwhile noting that Tanzania ratified the Berne Convention for Protection of Literary and Artistic Works which became effective on the 25th July 1994. To this end, copyrights in Tanzania are territorial in the sense that all works done in the United Republic of Tanzania and those that are first published in Tanzania enjoy protection under the law notwithstanding the nationality of the authors.

Trademarks are governed by the Trade and Service Marks Act.13 In Tanzania the registration of trademarks and patents are administered by the Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA). Registration of a trademark is for a period of seven years and may be renewed for further periods of ten years in perpetuity. Unregistered trademarks are also offered protection under common law if it can be shown that the proprietor has established goodwill associated with its mark.

Patents enjoy protection under the Patent (Registration) Act.17. A patent may be registered for inventions (other than a discovery, scientific theory, mathematical method, aesthetic creation, computer program or presentation of information) after meeting specified requirements relating to novelty, utility and inventiveness.

There is no local system for registration of designs in Tanzania. However, Tanzania has ratified the Agreement on the Creation of the African Regional Industrial Property Organization, 1979 (effective for Tanzania as from 12 October 1983); and the Protocol on Patent and Industrial Designs within the Framework of African Region Industrial Property Organization (the Harare Protocol), 1982) (effective for Tanzania as from 01 September 1999).

Tanzania has not been listed in the most recent version of USTR’s annual Special 301 Report. This indicates the country’s commitment in ensuring intellectual property rights are observed in the country.

IP Resources

A wealth of information on protecting IP is freely available to U.S. rights holders.  Some excellent resources for companies regarding intellectual property include the following:

  • For information about patent, trademark, or copyright issues — including enforcement issues in the US and other countries — call the STOP! Hotline: 1-866-999-HALT or visit STOPfakes.gov. For more information about registering trademarks and patents (both in the U.S. as well as in foreign countries), contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at: 1-800-786-9199   or  https://www.uspto.gov/.
  •  For more information about registering for copyright protection in the United States, contact the U.S. Copyright Office at: 1-202-707-5959.
  •  For more information about how to evaluate, protect, and enforce intellectual property rights and how these rights may be important for businesses, please visit the “Resources” section of the STOPfakes.gov website at https://www.stopfakes.gov/resources
  •  For information on obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights and market-specific IP Toolkits visit: www.stopfakes.gov.  The toolkits contain detailed information on protecting and enforcing IP in specific markets and also contain contact information for local IPR offices abroad and U.S. government officials available to assist SMEs.
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce has positioned IP attachés in key markets around the world. You can get contact information for the IP attaché who covers Tanzania at: U.S. Consulate General,  Johannesburg, South Africa, Phone: +27 11 290 3120, Email: Office.Johannesburg@trade.gov, https://www.trade.gov/south-africa.

To access Tanzania’s ICS, which includes information on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statement website.