Intellectual Property Protection in Namibia

Copyright

Creative works such as songs, books and other publications, paintings or pictures are automatically  protected – as the creator you have the “copyright”. This is the simplest form of protection because you don’t have to register it anywhere. Nobody is allowed to copy your work.

In Namibia you can protect works such as literature, books, music and creative work formally by filing a copyright application with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology>Services>Copyright Services.

  1. Basic Facts About Copyright
  2. Newspaper or Magazine registration
  3. Application for Copyright Testimonial

Trademarks

Logos and names of your company, your products or services are meant to be unique. You don’t want other companies to use similar logos or names because customers might confuse your and their products. You can register logos, names or other marks and protect them this way. The registration process will also make sure your logos and names don’t interfere with those other companies have registered already.

If you have a company we recommend registering your company name and logo at a minimum, consider also registering product names, logos etc. The registration process will also tell you if you are interfering with trademarks of other companies. You find general information on trademarks in Africa here.

To register a name or trademark with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Department of Trade and Commerce you will need to obtain the following documents:

  1. Application for Reservation of Name or Shortened Form or Defensive Name
  2. Application of Registration of Trade mark form
  3. How to complete Trademark Application Form
  4. International Classification of Goods and Services

Registered Designs – to protect the design and “look” of a product you can register your design. A famous example is the shape of a Coke bottle: it is protected and you will not see anybody else using the same bottle shape for their drinks. You can register aesthetic designs that affect only “look and feel” of your product and functional designs that are needed as functioning features of your product.

To register a design in Namibia, please follow these guidelines.

Patents

If you have an invention that can be really applied you can consider filing a patent. A patent basically gives you protection for your idea so nobody else can use it without your approval in exchange for making it public. To file a patent your invention it must meet four criteria

  1. it must be new, that is it was not known anywhere in the world before
  2. it cannot be just a small modification or variation of a known technology and
  3. it must be possible to apply it – just having a vague idea is not enough, you need to develop the technology to make it really work!
  4. it has not been published. For example if you present your idea at a conference, in an interview, in a publication it becomes public knowledge and you cannot file a patent later!
Meeting these criteria is very tough especially as you need to conduct a prior art search to see if somebody else anywhere in the world came up with the same invention, patented or not. Filing patents is also costly – to really protect your invention you need to protect them in each country where it might have value in the market. This cost comes less from fees to file the patent but from prior art searches and the need to have a patent attorney word the patent and especially the claims in the patent that describe what you want to protect.
You find more information on patenting here.
To file  a patent in Namibia you will need the information and forms below. All documents are for information purposes only to help you prepare your patent filing. You should obtain the newest version directly from the Ministry at the time you prepare your filing.  Patents have to be filed with the Ministry of Trade and Industry:
You find a more detailed overview of these options as well as of counterfeit products and plant breeders’ rights in this document courtesy of Spoor & Fisher. Note however that it covers the situation in South Africa which is similar but not exactly the same as in Namibia.