Trademarks Inadmissible for Registration in Ethiopia

Trademarks play an important role in protecting the rights of businesses and individuals in Ethiopia by helping to clearly distinguish their goods or services from those of others. However, there are certain types of trademarks that may not be admissible for registration in Ethiopia.

The first type of trademark that may not be admissible for registration is one that does not conform to the provisions of Article 5 of the Ethiopian trademark registration proclamation. This includes trademarks that are not capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of others. For example, a trademark that is too generic or descriptive may not be eligible for registration.

Another type of trademark that may not be admissible for registration is one that consists of sound or smell. These types of trademarks are not considered to be easily recognizable or distinctive and therefore may not be eligible for registration.

Trademarks that are contrary to public order or morality may also not be admissible for registration. For example, a trademark that promotes illegal activities or hate speech would not be considered eligible for registration.

Trademarks consisting exclusively of signs or indications that designate the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin of goods or services, the time of production of the goods or rendering of the services, or other characteristics of the goods or services may also not be admissible for registration. This is because these types of trademarks are not considered to be distinctive enough to clearly distinguish the goods or services of one person from those of others.

Trademarks consisting exclusively of signs or indications that have become customary in the current language use in relation to such goods or services for which the registration of a trademark is applied for, or which have become customary in economic and business activities may also not be admissible for registration. This is because these types of trademarks are not considered to be unique or distinctive enough to clearly distinguish the goods or services of one person from those of others.

Trademarks consisting exclusively of a shape which results from the nature of the good itself or that is necessary to obtain a technical result of the good or that gives substantial value to the good may also not be admissible for registration. This is because these types of trademarks are not considered to be unique or distinctive enough to clearly distinguish the goods or services of one person from those of others.

Trademarks that are likely to mislead the public or the business community, in particular as regards the geographical origin of the goods or services concerned, or their nature or characteristics may also not be admissible for registration. This is because these types of trademarks may cause confusion and mislead consumers.

Trademarks that are identical with or an imitation of or contains an armorial bearing, flag or other emblem, a name or abbreviation or initials of the name of, or official sign or hallmark adopted by any state, intergovernmental organization, or other organization created by international conventions may also not be admissible for registration, unless authorized by a competent authority.

Trademarks that consist exclusively the surname of the applicant may also not be admissible for registration. This is because these types of trademarks are not considered to be unique or distinctive enough to clearly distinguish the goods or services of one person from those of others.

Trademarks that consist exclusively the full name of an alive individual without his consent may also not be admissible for registration. This is because these types of trademarks are not considered to be unique or distinctive enough to clearly distinguish the goods or services of one person from those of others, and also violates the individual’s rights.

However, there is an exception to the above-stated points. The provisions of Sub-Article (1) (e), (f) and (j) do not apply if by the date of receipt of an application for registration of a trademark, the trademark has, as a result of its use, become well known in Ethiopia. This means that if a trademark has been used extensively and has gained recognition and fame in Ethiopia, it may be eligible for registration even if it falls under the above restrictions. Therefore, if a trader can prove that their trademark is well known in Ethiopia, they can still be able to register their trademark, despite its similarity with other trademarks or its being a common phrase in the language.