The Committee referred to the follow- ing documents during its deliberations:
i. The 1992 Constitution
ii. The Standing Orders of Parliament
iii. Trademarks Act, 2004 (Act 664)
iv. Trademarks Act, 1963 (Act 270)
v. Trademarks Regulations,1970,
Ghana enacted the Trademarks Act, 1963 (Act 270) to provide for the protection of trademarks and for other related matters. The law after almost four decades in operation, was replaced by the enactment of the Trademarks Act, 2004 (Act 664). The enactment of Trademarks Act, 2004 (Act 664) was to update Trademarks Act, 1963 (Act 270) and to incorporate some provisions of the Trade- Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement into the laws of Ghana.
The TRIPS Agreement inter alia, establishes minimum standards for intellectual property protection to be adhered to by member countries. Ghana being a signatory to the TRIPS Agreement had to internalise provisions of the Agreement into our domestic law.
The Madrid Agreement concerning the Intellectual Registration of Trade of
Marks adopted at Madrid on the 14th day of April 1981, as subsequently revised and amended and its subsequent Protocol adopted at Madrid on the 27th day of June, 1989 as amended from time to time created the need for revision and updating of our law. These international agreements and protocols reflected the dynamics and changing circumstances of creativity and innovation and improved the standards for the protection of intellectual property rights.
Some of the obligations under the revised Protocols could be provided for in regulations. There are also issues of procedure to be followed when dealing with requests for extension of protection to Ghana and communication of information to the International Bureau.
Object of the Bill
The Bill seeks to amend the Trademarks Act, 2004 (Act 664) to give the Minister responsible for Justice the authority to make provisions to give effect to some of the obligations of the country under the Madrid Protocol and other related Treaties. This authority had earlier not been granted by existing law.
The Bill also seeks to create a single system with respect to the renewal of trademarks by reconciling the earlier provisions in the Trademarks Act, 2004 (Act 664) and the repeals and savings provisions of the same law in respect of renewal periods for the registration of trademarks in the country.
The law as it stands now is that the repealed Trademarks Act, 1963 (Act 270) provided that the registration period of a trademark was 7 years and the renewal period was 14 years.
This was replaced by section 10 of the Trademarks Act, 2004 (Act 664) which provides that the registration of a trademark is for a period of 10 years and be renewed for consecutive periods of 10 years.
The repeals and savings provision of Trademarks Act, 2004 (Act 664), however, provide that trademarks registered under Trademarks Act, 1963 (Act 270) are to be renewed for a period of 14 years from the date of the original registration or of the last renewal of registration.
The Committee observed that under the Trademarks Act, 2004 Act (664), trademarks are registered without recourse to the goods and services to which they are appl icable. The Bill under consideration however, makes it obligatory on any person registering a trademark to attach to the application, a reproduction of the trademark and a list of goods and services for which the registration of the trademark is required. This would introduce clarity and clear doubts as to the identity of the goods or services covered by the trademark.
The Committee also noted with concern the activities of people who pirate on other people's trademarks by introducing similar and identical signs with the intent to deceive the public. The Committee was informed that piracy of trademarks is on the increase. This calls for tougher measures including stiffer punishments.
It is therefore gratifying that the Bill introduces a new provision under clause 9 criminalising such a conduct and prescribes a penalty. The new offence relates to applying a sign identical to a registered trademark to goods with intent to sell the goods or for purposes of labelling, packaging or advertising the goods.
As stated in paragraph 4.3 above, the savings clause of the Trademarks Act, 2004 (Act 664) created a dual system of registration of trademarks in the country. The solution to this problem is the proposal in clause 13 of the Bill introducing uniformity in the renewal regime.
After a thorough scrutiny and deliberation, the Committee is very convinced that the Bill when passed, will ensure that international standards are met, simplicity and clarity of the trademarks regime in Ghana is obtained and Ghanaian entrepreneurs and creators better protected and motivated to invest more in intellectual property.
The single and direct linkage to the global registration system will greatly reduce cost of trademarks registration and also ensure trademarks owners benefit from access to the global market. The benefits to the country are obvious and immense.
The Committee therefore recommends to the House to adopt its Report and pass the Bill subject to the amendments attached.