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OAPI: Paving the Way to Patenting Across French-Speaking Africa


Published on 4 July 2017

In the previous article "ARIPO: Paving the Way to Patenting Across English-Speaking Africa", we took a look at an organization that facilitates patenting in 18 of the 54 countries that make up the continent of Africa, with 15 of the 18 being English-speaking countries. In this article, we shall take a look at its sister organization, the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle, which facilitates patenting in 17 other African countries.

Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle ("OAPI")

Established in 1977 under the auspices of the Bangui Agreement, the OAPI is a regional Intellectual Property system, which also goes by the English name of 'African Intellectual Property Organization.' Headquartered in Yaoundé, Cameroon, its missions include: protection of industrial property rights; dissemination of technical information; protection of literary and artistic property rights; promoting the economic development of member states; and providing Intellectual Property training (Hamidou Kone; 2012).

OAPI is comprised of mostly French-speaking African economies: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Togo, and Union of the Comoros (International Trademark Association; 2013). Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania are the member states that do not have French as an official language, while Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Madagascar, Rwanda, and Seychelles are the countries with French as an official language that are not members of OAPI. Of these, Rwanda is a member of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization ("ARIPO").

The Differences Between ARIPO and OAPI

Differences exist between the two African regional Intellectual Property systems (ARIPO and OAPI) with respect to: national Intellectual Property legislations of member states; designation of member states; refusal of a granted patent by member states in their territories; and substantive examination (Table 1).


The estimated prosecution costs are inclusive of the attorney charges for reporting 1.5 office actions, preparing the response to each office action, and processing the response to each office action. Unlike ARIPO, but like the Eurasian Patent Office and the Gulf Cooperation Council Patent Office, OAPI does not offer a “Go Green” incentive. While both ARIPO and OAPI charge for each claim in excess of 10 claims, the latter charges approximately 55% more than the former. Only 10 pages are included in the OAPI filing fee, while 30 pages are included in the ARIPO filing fee.

The Costs of Obtaining a Patent with OAPI

Let us now study the costs involved in obtaining and maintaining a PCT National Phase patent through to expiry with OAPI. Typically, there are only two categories of costs involved: official fees and attorney charges.

The total estimated costs that might be incurred by a company over the lifecycle of a 40-page patent (including five pages of drawings) with 15 claims, amount to $31,013 (Table 2). The costs are inclusive of Value Added Tax (added to the attorney charges) and are spread across four different stages of the patenting process: filing ($6,267); prosecution ($2,856); grant ($161); and annuities ($21,729).

The official fees to be paid at the time of filing an application are $3,633 (basic filing fee, publication fee, fee for claiming a single priority, first annuity or maintenance fee, fee for each claim beyond 10 claims, and fee for each set of 10 pages beyond the first 10 pages).


The estimated prosecution costs are inclusive of the attorney charges for reporting 1.5 office actions, preparing the response to each office action, and processing the response to each office action.

Unlike ARIPO, but like the Eurasian Patent Office and the Gulf Cooperation Council Patent Office, OAPI does not offer a "Go Green" incentive. While both ARIPO and OAPI charge for each claim in excess of 10 claims, the latter charges approximately 55% more than the former. Only 10 pages are included in the OAPI filing fee, while 30 pages are included in the ARIPO filing fee.

Estimation of OAPI Patent Costs

Interested in getting similar estimates? The Global IP Estimator is Quantify IP's flagship software that accurately estimates the patenting costs for a single patent family, based on our meticulous research of patent legislations in 150+ jurisdictions. Specific stages of the patenting process can be included or excluded from the estimates.

The budget forecasting capabilities of many law firms and Fortune 500 companies have undergone a significant transformation since the addition of the Global IP Estimator to their toolbox. To see what we can do for you, email us at qipcontact@quantifyip.com, or call us at +1-808-891-0099.

Venkatesh Viswanath (Senior Analyst, Quantify IP) contributed to this article.
Exchange Rate Used: 1 US Dollar = 582.94 Central African Francs

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