Rwanda’s local product ‘Akabanga’ gains international trademark

The widely acclaimed chili pepper product originally produced and packed in Rwanda has officially been given an international trademark certification on this Thursday12th November, 2015.
With Rwandan products gaining rapid global recognition, the need for international trademark protection and registration has become even more urgent.
Rwanda Development Board Registrar General Louise Kanyonga proclaimed that Akabanga, which is manufactured in Rwanda by Enterprise Urwibutso, had (…)

The widely acclaimed chili pepper product originally produced and packed in Rwanda has officially been given an international trademark certification on this Thursday12th November, 2015.

With Rwandan products gaining rapid global recognition, the need for international trademark protection and registration has become even more urgent.

Rwanda Development Board Registrar General Louise Kanyonga proclaimed that Akabanga, which is manufactured in Rwanda by Enterprise Urwibutso, had successfully obtained its global trademark registration.

“This is a clear manifestation of the possibility that Rwanda products have to be registered as international brand names,” she explained noting that the first step the firm had taken was to secure its brand name in Rwanda.

To secure its brand in Rwanda, Entreprise Urwibutso registered the Akabanga brand name in the Office of the Registrar General’s Intellectual Property Office, obtaining local protection.

Sina Gerard, the entrepreneur behind the Akabanga brand said that being a fast growing company that exports agro products, it became necessary to protect the same brand in each respective country where the products are marketed.

“We considered two options- to either use the national route and secure the brand separately in each country or use the Madrid System that is more efficient and inexpensive,” he explained adding that they chose the latter.

The Madrid System uses the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Madrid Agreement, as a one-stop solution for registering and managing marks worldwide. In this System, an applicant files one application, in one language, and pays one set of fees to protect the trademark in the territories of 96 members of Madrid Union.

This global registration though requires that the trademark must first have been registered with the home country of the producer.

“The home registration or application is known as the basic mark. You then need to submit your international application through this same IP Office, which will certify and forward it to WIPO, based in Geneva,” Kanyonga explained.

Once approved by WIPO, the trademark is recorded in the International Register and published in the WIPO Gazette of International Marks. WIPO will then send a certificate of the international registration and notifies the IP Offices in all the territories where the mark will be protected.

Rwanda has a set of unique products that defies competition on global level, registering their brands for 15 countries among 96 Madrid Union Member States would definitely be the next step to sustainably insure availability of made in Rwanda products.