Patent Registration

In Tanzania, request for grant of a patent must be made in English, in triplicate and in a prescribed form comprising: (i) request for the grant of a patent; (ii) the full name and address of the applicant(s) including their nationalities and country principal place of business (if there are several applicants, the proportion of their entitlement must be mentioned if it is not equal); (iii) title of the invention, that is, a short and precise indication of the subject matter of the invention; (iv) statement that the applicant is the inventor (if applicant is not the inventor, a sworn statement must be provided to justify the applicant’s right to file a patent application); (v) In the case of a divisional application, declaration to that effect, with indication of reference number and the filing and priority dates of the parent application; and (vi) claim to priority rights, if appropriate, indicating number, country, and filing date of the application which priority is claimed and a statement as to whether the certified copy of the earlier application is accompanied to the application (if not the date when will be furnished must be indicated). The request must be signed by the patent agent. 

The list of documents that must be attached to the request are: (i) power of attorney; (ii) description; (iii) claim(s); (iv) abstract; (v) drawing(s); (vi) statement justifying that certain disclosures be disregarded; (vii) priority documents (if available at the time of filing); (ix) English translation (if available at the time of filing); and (x) application fee and any other documents, if any. The description, claim(s), abstract, drawing(s), statement justifying that certain disclosures be disregarded, priority and any other documents must be filed in triplicate (fourth copy for agent’s file). 

Generally, documents in foreign languages may be submitted, but the Patent Office requires a translation into English language. However, in case the documents are in another language, the English translation must be filed within three months from the day of filing the application. In case of PCT applications, if Tanzania is a designated or elected State, the English translation must be filed simultaneously with entering the Tanzania national phase by the 21-month deadline. The power of attorney must be signed by the by the applicant and does not require legalization. Normally, the power of attorney must be filed with the application. If it is not available at the time of filing, later filing is allowed on the condition that under any circumstances, it must be filed within 30 days from the date of filing the application. 

The description must disclose the invention in such manner and with such details so that the invention can be established by a person skilled in the art on the basis of the specification and drawings. The specification and claims must be made on sheets of strong white paper of international size A4 (29.7 cm ×21 cm), which may be used on one side only. All sheets must be connected in such a manner that they can easily be separated and joined again. The margins to be observed are: left side 2.5; top 2; right side and bottom 2. The description and other documents (other than drawing) must be typewritten in a dark, indelible color, at least 1½ line spacing and in characters of which the capital letters are not less than 0.21 cm high. Graphic symbols and chemical and mathematical formulae may, when necessary, be written by hand or drawn, in a dark indelible color. Only minor erasures, corrections or insertions not affecting the authenticity of the text may be made. The request for grant of a patent, the description, the claims and the abstract may contain chemical or mathematical formulae. The claims may contain tables if use of tables is desirable. In all documents, including drawings, units of weight and measures must be expressed in terms of the metric system. If a different system is used, the units must also be expressed in metric system. Temperatures must be expressed in degrees Celsius. For the other physical values, the units recognized in international practice must be used, for mathematical formulae the symbols, atomic weights and molecular formulae in general use must be employed. In general, use must be made of technical terms, signs and symbols generally accepted in the field in question. If a formulae or symbols is used in the description a copy thereof, prepared in the same manner as drawings, must be furnished if the Patent Office so directs. The terminology and the signs must be consistent throughout the application. The description must contain: 

  • the title of the invention;
  • specification of the technical field or fields to which the invention relates;
  • indication of the background art which, as far as known to the applicant, can be regarded as useful for the understanding, searching and examination of the invention, and, preferably, cite the documents reflecting such background art;
  • disclosure of the invention, as claimed, in such terms that the technical problem (even if not expressly stated as such) and its solution can be understood, and state the advantageous effects, if any, of the invention with reference to the background art;
  • brief description of the figures in the drawings, if any;
  • statement on the best mode known to the applicant for establishing the invention known to the inventor at the filing date or, where priority is claimed, priority date of the application. This is done by way of giving examples and where appropriate, and with reference to the drawings, if any;
  • explicit indication on when it is not otherwise obvious from the description or nature of the invention, the way or ways in which the invention is capable of industrial application or of other use; and
  • applications comprising the disclosure of nucleotide or amino acid sequences must also comprise a sequence listing filed in a computer readable form produced in accordance with the rules and regulations of the PCT.

The contents of the description must be presented in the order in which such contents are listed in patents regulations, unless, because of the nature of the invention, a different order affords a better understanding and a more economical presentation. 

If the contents of an application for a patent or of a patent discloses an invention which requires for its performance the use of a micro-organism which is not available to the public at its date of filing, these contents are treated as disclosing the invention in a manner which is clear and complete enough for the invention to be performed by a person skilled in the art if the following conditions are satisfied: 

  • a culture of the micro-organism has been deposited in a culture collection not later than the date of filing the application;
  • the application as filed gives such relevant information as is available to the applicant on the characteristics of the microorganism; and
  • the name of the culture collection, the date when the culture was deposited and the accession number of the deposit are given in the description of the application.

The claim must be defined unambiguously, and in accordance with the description. Depending on the nature of the invention, claims may be for a product, an apparatus, a process or a use. The claims must be numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals. Claims must be written either: (i) in two parts, the first part consisting of a statement indicating those technical features of the invention which are necessary in connection with the definition of the claimed subject matter and which, in combination, appear to be part of the prior art, the second part ("the characterizing portion''), introduced by the words "characterized in that," "characterized by, "wherein the improvement comprises", or other words to the same effect, consisting of a statement concisely indicating those technical features which in combination with the features stated in the first part, define the subject matter for which protection is sought; or (ii) in a single statement containing a recitation of a combination of several elements or steps, or single element or step, which defines the matter for which protection is sought. 

A claim must not contain, in respect of the technical features of the invention, references to the description or any drawings, for example, such references as: "as described in part .................................of the description, " or " as illustrated in figure. ............................of the drawings", unless such a reference is necessary for the understanding of the claim or enhances the clarity or the conciseness of the claim. A claim also must not contain any drawing or graph. A claim may contain tables and chemical or mathematical formulas. Further, where the application contains any drawing, any technical feature mentioned in any claim may, if the intelligibility of that claim can be enhanced, include a reference sign to that drawing or to the applicable part of that drawing. Such a reference sign must be placed between square brackets or parentheses and must not be construed as limiting the claim. 

Any claim which includes all the features of one or more other claims of the same category ("dependent claim" or "multiple dependent claim," respectively) it must preferably first refer to the other claim or claims by indicating the serial number of the other claim or the serial numbers of the other claims and then state those features claimed that are additional to the features claimed in the other claim or claims. Dependent claims or multiple dependent Claims may depend on dependent claims or multiple dependent claims, multiple dependent claims may refer in the alternative or in the cumulative to the claims on which they depend. All dependent claims referring to the same other claim and all multiple dependent claims referring to the same other claims, must be grouped together in the most practical way possible. 

Drawings must be submitted in three identical sets (fourth set for agent’s file). Drawings must be on sheets the usable surface area of which must not exceed 26.2 cm by 17 cm. The sheets must not contain frames round the usable or used surface. The minimum margins shall be as follows: 

top ........................................... .2.5 cm

left side ..................................... .2.5 cm

right side .................................. 1.5 cm

bottom ...................................... 1 .o cm

Drawings must be executed as follows:

  1. without coloring in durable, black sufficiently dense and dark, uniformly thick and well defined lines and strokes to permit satisfactory reproduction;
  2. cross-sections must be indicated by hatching which does not impede the clear reading of the reference signs and leading lines;
  3. the scale of the drawings and the distinctness of their graphical execution must be such that a photographic reproduction with linear reduction in size to two-thirds would enable all details to be distinguished without difficulty. If, as and exception, the scale is given on a drawing it must be represented graphically;
  4. all numbers, letters and reference signs appearing in the drawings must be simple and clear and brackets, circles and inverted commas must not be used in association with numbers and letters;
  5. elements of the same figures must be in proportion to each other, unless a difference in proportion is indispensable for the clarity of the figure;
  6. the height of the numbers and letter must not be less than 0.32 cm and for the lettering of drawings, the Latin and, where customary, the Greek alphabets must be used;
  7. the same sheet of drawings may contain several figures. Where figures drawn on two or more sheets are intended to form one whole figure, the figures on the several sheets must be so arranged that the whole figure can be assembled without concealing any part of the partial figures. The different figures must be arranged without wasting space, clearly separated from one another. The different figures must be numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals independently of the numbering of the sheets;
  8. reference signs not mentioned in the description or claims must not appear in the drawings, and vice versa.. The same features, when denoted by reference signs, must, throughout the application, be denoted by the same signs;
  9. the drawings must not contain textual matter, except, when required for the understanding of the drawings. a single word or words such as "water", "steam", "open", "closed", "section on AA" and in the case of electric circuits and block schematic or flow sheet diagrams, short catchwords; and
  10. the sheets of the drawings must be numbered in accordance with patent regulation 14(9).

Abstract must be filed in three copies (fourth copy for agent’s file), in English language. The abstract must commence with the title of the invention. The abstract must contain a concise summary of the matter contained in the description of the invention. The summary must indicate the technical field to which the invention belongs and be drafted in a manner which allows a clear understanding of the technical problem to which the invention relates the gist of the solution to that problem through the invention and the principal use or uses of the invention. 

Where appropriate, the abstract must also contain the chemical formula which, among those contained in the specification, best characterizes the invention. It must not contain statements on the alleged merits or value of the invention or on its speculative application. The abstract must normally not contain more than 150 words. If the description of the invention contains any drawings, the applicant must indicate the figure or, exceptionally, the figures of the drawings which he suggests should accompany the abstract when published. The Patents Office may decide to publish one or more other figures if it considers that they best characterize the invention. The abstract must be such that it constitutes an efficient instrument for the purposes of searching in a particulars technical field, in particular by making it possible to assess whether there is a need to consult the description of the invention itself. At the end of the abstract the number of the figure in the drawings which best characterizes the invention must be indicated. The abstract must serve for the purpose of extracting technical information only. The abstract may not in particular serve for the interpretation of the extent of the protection claimed, and may not be taken into consideration when determining the state of the art. 

Convention priority must be made at the time of filing the application and must generally indicate: 

  1. The date(s) of the earlier application(s);
  2. The number(s) of the earlier application(s). If at the time of filing the number of the earlier application is not known, that number shall be furnished within three months from the date of filing of the application for a patent;
  3. The symbol of the International Patent Classification which has been allocated to the priority application(s); Where a symbol of the International Patent Classification has not been allocated or had not yet been allocated at the time of filing the declaration, the applicant must state this fact and must communicate the symbol as soon as it has been allocated;
  4. The state(s) in which the earlier(s) application(s) was filed or, where the earlier application is a regional or an international application, the state (s) for which it was designated; and
  5. Where the earlier application is a regional or an international application, the office with which it was filed.

If the Patent Office requests for a certified copy of the earlier application, the copy must be furnished within one month from the date of request. Where an earlier application is not in English language, the applicant must, within three months from the date of request by the Patent Office, furnish English translation of the earlier application. Unless it is indicated otherwise by the Patent Office, the earlier application and any translation thereof must be filed in one copy. If the application is made in the name of someone other than the applicant in the basic case, the evidence of an assignment of priority rights is required. Under Tanzanian patent law, internal priority may be claimed from an earlier application for utility model. If an applicant has filed an earlier utility model application relating to the same subject matter, he may on filing a patent application claim the filing date and priority date of the earlier utility model application provided that such claim is made before the notification of rejection of the application for utility model and after payment of prescribed fees. 

The procedure for processing the national patent application is described under the patents legislation and regulations made there under. The following are the steps in processing the patent application: 

  1. Preliminary examination. Upon filing of the application, the Patent Office will examine whether the minimum requirements for obtaining a filing date have been met such as whether the application fee(s) has been paid, and the description, drawings, claim and abstract have been filed in English language, etc. The Patent Office records as a filing date the date of receipt of the application, provided that, at the time of receipt, the documents filed must contain the name of the applicant; a part which on the face of it appears to be a description; and a part which on the face of it appears to be a claim. If the Patent Office finds that the application did not, at the time of receipt, fulfill these requirements, it will require the person making the application to file the application. If the person making the application complies, the Patent Office records as filing date, the date of receipt of the required correction. If the person making the application fails to comply, the application will be considered to have been withdrawn. Once the Patent Office accords a filing date, it is required to notify the applicant promptly. If the description, drawings and abstract were not filed in English language, applicant will be notified that a English translation thereof must be filed within three months of the filing date, failing which the application will be deemed withdrawn. If the application is based on earlier application, the applicant will be required to furnish certified copy of the earlier application within three months from the date of filing. 

    Where the application refers to drawings which in fact are not included in the application, the missing drawings must be furnished within thirty days and the date of submitting the drawings shall be shall record as a filing date. If no requirement was sent by the Patent Office to the person making an application and that person nevertheless files a correction, pertaining to any defects to his application, the Patent Office records as filing date the date of receipt of the correction provided that the correction must be received within thirty days from the date of receipt of the application. If the application is accompanied by a sworn declaration to the effect that the person making the application has a right to the patent, the Patent Office will send a copy of the statement to the inventor and give him a right to inspect the application and to receive, at his own expense, a copy of the application. 

  2. Formal examination. After the preliminary examination the application will be examined as to compliance with the formal requirements. If the formal requirements for obtaining a patent are found not complied with, applicant will be given three months within which to remedy the defects. There is prescribed form for remedying the defects. If the defects are not remedied within three months period, the application will be refused. If the reply of the applicant is considered insufficient, the application will also be refused. If the applicant fails to reply, the application will be deemed withdrawn. The formal examination is carried out with a view to establishing whether (a) the request for grant of a patent states the name of and other prescribed data concerning the applicant, the inventor and the agent if any, and the title of the invention; (b) If the applicant is not the inventor, the application is accompanied by a sworn declaration to the effect that the person making the application has a right to the patent; (c) the appointment of an agent is indicated by designation of the agent in the request or by the furnishing of a power of attorney signed by the person making the application; (d) compliance of the description, the claims and, where applicable, the drawings with the physical requirements prescribed by the regulations; (e) the application contains an abstract; (f) a request made by the Patent Office for furnishing of information on corresponding foreign applications and grants has been complied with; and (g) official fees have been paid as provided in the regulations. If the Patent Office finds any of these defects, it will require the person making the application to remedy such defects provided that any corrections made to the application must not require a change of the filing date and if the applicant does not comply with the said invitation, the application will be rejected.
  3. Novelty search. If the formal requirements are found complied with, the Patent Office will carry out a novelty search (unless the application is to be the subject of an international-type search), and will prepare a novelty search report on the basis of the claims, with due regard to the description and drawings (if any). The Patent Office will cause an examination to be carried out as to whether the application appears to comply with the requirement of unity of invention. If the Patent Office is of the opinion that the requirement of unity of invention may not have been complied with, the applicant will be invited to restrict or divide the application. The time limit for submitting comments or amendments is two months from the date of notification by the Patent Office. If the person making the application does not comply with this requirement, the application will be rejected.
  4. Publication. Irrespective of the course of the procedure of grant, when the decision to grant is made, the applicant will be requested to pay the grant and publication fees within three months from date of notification. Upon payment of the grant and publication fees, the Patent Office allots the patent registration and publication number, in the sequential order of grant, and shall publish a reference to the grant in the Patents Journal. The publication of the reference to the grant of the patent includes (a) the number of the patent; (b) the name of the owner of the patent; (c) the name of the inventor or other person who has a right to a patent as shown on the sworn statement; (d) the name and address of the agent (if any); (e) the filing date and number of the application; (f) if priority has been made and the claim has been accepted, as statement of the priority, the priority date and the name of the country or countries in which or for which the earlier application was filed; (g) effective date of grant of the patent; (h) the title of the invention; (h) the abstract; (i) the most illustrative of the drawings (if any); and (k) the symbol of the International Patent Classification. Upon publication of the application the entire file will be open to public inspection after payment of search fee. Until the publication of the application, only the applicant, his representative, and the expert or body called upon to give an expert opinion (if any) will have access to the files. The inventor also has access to the files and is entitled to make remarks, even if he is not the applicant. Copies of the documents that may be inspected may be obtained on payment of the required fee.
  5. Substantive examination. Under the patent legislation, the Minister responsible for patents is allowed by regulations to direct that applications for patents relating to a specified technical field to be subjected to an examination as to substance. If in the opinion of the Patent Office that the subject matter of an invention for which a patent is sought falls within a technical field covered by the terms of a direction by the Minister, examination as to substance will be carried out to establish whether the following conditions are fulfilled: (a) the claimed invention is patentable; (b) the claimed invention is not excluded frompatentability; and (c) the description and the claims comply with the requirements prescribed under the law.

    For the purposes of the examination as to substance, the Patent Office may transmit the application together with all relevant documents to the authority designated in the regulations for a preliminary examination as to the patentability of the claimed invention. The designated authority will make a report on the conclusions of its examination and transmit it to the Patent Office and to the applicant. Where, taking due account of the conclusions of designated authority, the Patent Office is of the opinion that any of the conditions are not fulfilled, it will notify the applicant accordingly and invite him to submit his observations and where applicable, to amend his application. However, no amendments are allowed which, by the introduction of new subject matter, would go beyond the scope of the patent application as originally filed. If despite any observation or amendment submitted by the person making the application, the Patent Office finds that any of the conditions are not fulfilled, the application will be rejected and the applicant will be notified accordingly.

  6. Grant. Within four months from the date of publication of a reference to the grant, the patent will be granted in a prescribed form of grant which contains, apart from information included in the publication of a reference to the grant, the date of publication of the patent and the address of the inventor and the owner of the patent. The patent is deemed to be granted on the date the Patent Office published a reference to the grant.

    After grant, a patent certificate will be issued in a prescribed form. The grant will be entered in the Patents register. The register contains, in addition to information included in the publication of reference of a grant, the following information: (a) the address of service; (b) the expiry date or date on which the patent was surrendered or invalidated; (c) any assignment of the patent or application thereof; (d) the grant of any license contract; (e) the grant, cancellation and variation of the terms of any compulsory license with respect to the patent; and (f) the fact that licenses under the patent are available as of right.

  7. Opposition: Opposition can be made by way of filing a request for correction of errors in any document filed with the Patent Office. This request can be made by any person within three months after the date of publication in a form of notice of notice of opposition. The notice of opposition must be supported by a statement in duplicate setting out fully the facts on which the opponent relies and the relief which he seeks. The Patent Office will send a copy of the notice and the statement to the person making the request who, if he desires to proceed with his request for grant of a patent, he must file a counter-statement in duplicate within three months from the date of receiving a notice of opposition. After receiving the counter-statement, the Patent Office will give such directions as it may think fit with regard to the subsequent proceedings. Usually, the Patent Office refers the matter to the High Court. The following orders may be made by the High Court: (a) transferring a patent or application or any right in or under it to any person; (b) that the application should proceed in the name of any person; (c) allowing the owner of a patent to amend the application or patent; or (d) invalidating a patent.
  8. Terms. The time or periods prescribed under the Patent Regulations for doing any act or taking any proceeding may be extended by the Patent Office if it thinks fit, upon such notice to the parties and upon such terms, as it may direct. Such extensions may be granted although the time or period for doing such act or taking such proceeding has already expired.
  9. Reconsideration and Appeal. If the application is rejected an appeal with the Patent Office is not possible, but a request for reconsideration of the decision of the Patent Office may be filed. The applicant may appeal to the High Court against any decision by the Patent Office which fixes a filing date, rejects the application, and treats the application as if it had not been filed, considers any of the claims to be withdrawn or refuses to grant a patent. With respect to plant varieties, an appeal shall lie to the Appeals Board from the decisions of the Registrar. A person who is aggrieved by any such decision may appeal to the Appeals Board by submitting a notice of appeal within sixty days following the publication or of the receipt of the individual notice of such decision by the person whose interest is the source or subject of the appeal. The Appeals Board may conduct investigation, if it deems it necessary to do so, and may hold a hearing of the appeal or make a decision based on written submissions. The Appeals Board may confirm, set aside or vary any decision or action of the Registrar; and may order the Registrar to carry out the decision of the Appeals Board. The Appeals Board must give the reasons for its decision in writing, and copies thereof must be furnished to the appellant, the Registrar and any other interested party. The Minister may order the Appeals Board to review its decision if he is of the opinion that, because of new evidence or developments the previous decision may change.
  10. Maintenance of pending application. Annual fees are due for the maintenance of patent protection, both in respect of a published application and for a granted patent. The first payment of annuities becomes due on the date of the publication of the patent application. Further annuities are payable on the anniversaries of the filing date. See further hereinafter, ‘Fees’.
  11. Derivation. Utility model can be obtained in Tanzania. At present an invention cannot be protected by a patent and a utility model at the same time. An applicant for patent may at any time during the examination procedure until the date that the decision of grant becomes definitive or, in case of rejection, before notification of rejection, file an application for conversion of an application for grant of a patent to utility model for the same invention, claiming the filing date of the earlier patent application. A priority date validly claimed for the earlier patent application may in such case be the priority date for the later derived utility model application as well.

Notably, a patent application derived from an earlier utility model application claiming priority on filing date of the utility model application, may be filed before the decision of grant becomes definitive or, in case of rejection, before notification of rejection.

Applications which are deemed to have been withdrawn and patents lapsed through effluxion of time or non-payment of annuities can be restored (Regulation 32 of Patent Regulations). The application for restoration must be made in a prescribed form and must be supported by evidence in support of the statements made in the application. If, upon consideration of the evidence, the Patent Office is not satisfied that a case for restoration has not been made, a request for restoration will be refused and the person requesting restoration will be notified accordingly. The person requesting restoration is allowed to present more evidence within thirty days from the date of receiving the notification. If the application for restoration is allowed by the Patent Office, the person requesting restoration will be notified accordingly and will be asked to pay the relevant fees. The decision to make restoration will be published in the Patents Journal.

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