Uganda’s trademarks registry now accepts trademark applications that contain a priority claim derived under the Paris Convention as a rule of practice

The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property was signed in Paris, France on March 20, 1883. Uganda has been a Contracting Party to the Paris Convention since June 14, 1965 (and following its date of accession on May 14, 1965).

The provisions of the Paris Convention are sub-divided into four main categories and the second category establishes a basic right known as the right of priority (Article 4). The right of priority means that on the basis of a regular application for an intellectual property right filed by a given applicant in one of the member countries, the same applicant may, within a specified period of time (six or twelve months), apply for protection in all the other Member countries. These later applications will then be regarded as if they had been filed on the same day as the earliest application. Hence, these later applications enjoy a priority status with respect to all applications relating to the same right filed after the date of the first application.

Initially, there was a fair amount of confusion regarding the position of convention priority claims in Uganda because the Paris Convention has not been transformed into local legislation in the manner that, for example, the Patents Co-operation Treaty 1970 was adopted in Uganda by the Patents (Amendment) Act 2002. With respect to the relationship between international law and municipal law, Uganda subscribes to the dualist school of thought. When in particular instances rules of international law may be applicable within a state, they do so by virtue of their adoption by the internal law of the state, and apply as part of that internal law and not as international law. Treaties must therefore be specifically transformed into domestic legislation to have the force of law in Uganda.

However, the registry of trademarks now accepts and recognizes priority claims as standard international practice even in the absence of domesticating legislation. An applicant must include the claim for priority in the trademark application and also furnish the filing particulars from the country in which a prior application was made and upon which the priority claim is derived. The priority claim will also be contained in the official gazette publication of the application.

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