Located in the Horn of Africa, Somalia is bordered by Ethiopia to the West, Djibouti to the northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Kenya to the southwest. In 1960, the two regions of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland United to form the Somali Republic. Somalia collapsed into anarchy following the overthrow of the military regime of President Siad Barre in 1991. Despite political improvements the situation in Somalia remains unstable, characterised by outbreaks of civil unrest.
The Somali (Democratic) Republic (functioned till 1991) acceded to the Convention establishing WIPO on 18 August 1982, with effect from 18 November 1982. Both the territories of Somaliland and Somalia would have been covered by some of the pre 1960 IP conventions through their respective status as a British Protectorate and an Italian colony/Trusteeship territory before their union in 1960. However, Somalia collapsed into anarchy following the overthrow of the military regime of President Siad Barre in 1991.
Somalia does not have any laws specifically dealing with the protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). However, Article 16 (2) of the Somaliland Constitution provides that “the law shall determine the rights to authoring, creating and inventing” and thus imposes on the Government of Somaliland an obligation to implement laws dealing with the protection and enforcement of IPRs. As no laws have been implemented yet, Article 130 (5) of the Somaliland Constitution is instructive as it recognizes the application of the pre-1991 Somali laws until the promulgation of new laws in Somaliland as long as the laws are not in conflict with Sharia Law, individual rights and fundamental freedoms.
In December 2019, it was announced that the Registry, the Somali Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), had reopened. The pre-1991 legislation is again recognised, the new IP legislation (with transitional provisions that will recognise existing rights) is in the pipeline. The pre-1991 legislation is the Trade Mark Law No. 3 of January 22 1955, amended by Law No. 33 of January 18 1975 and Law No. 3 of December 8 1987. However, under current practices, publishing a cautionary notice to third parties of the claimed trademark rights can provide some amount of relief for an aggrieved party for a trademark. To ensure that the cautionary notice reaches a wider audience, the notice is published in both print and online newspapers.
Located on the north-eastern coast of Africa and bordered on the north-east side by the Red Sea, Eritrea has land borders with Djibouti to the south-east, Ethiopia to the south, and Sudan to the west. The country existed as an autonomous entity until it federated with Ethiopia in 1952. This was followed by annexation by Ethiopia in 1962 and a lengthy armed struggle. In 1993, in a referendum supported by Ethiopia, Eritreans voted for independence.
However, IPR laws and IP systems are not developed in Eritrea. After gaining independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea no longer recognised trade mark rights acquired in terms of Ethiopian law. Since then, no legislation has been enacted to remedy the situation and it is, consequently, not possible to obtain registered trade mark rights in Eritrea. The Government of Eritrea, through no official mechanisms, permitted the publication of cautionary notices in government-owned newspapers until August 2009. However, a moratorium was placed on this practice by the Eritrean Government (specifically the Ministry of Information), for political reasons. Further, there is no IP protection available for patents, copyrights and industrial designs in Eritrea.