In Mauritius, the legislative framework for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement initially provided for the protection of copyrights, trademarks, patents, with the Patents Act 1875, the Trademarks Act 1868 and the Copyright Act 1956 being the oldest legislation. The IPR enforcement mechanism took a new turn in 1995 when the TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement of the World Trade Organization came into effect. In order to confirm the legislation to the principles and obligations laid down the TRIPS, new pieces of legislation were adopted, namely:
- The Copyright Act, adopted in 1997
- The Patent, Industrial Designs and Trademarks Act 2002
- .The Protection against Unfair Practices (Industrial Property Rights) Act 2002
- The Layout Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits Act, 2002
- Geographical Indications Act, 2002
The institutional framework for IPR enforcement is made of a number of bodies. The Industrial Property Office, a department under the aegis of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Regional Cooperation, is responsible for processing registrations of patents, trademarks and industrial designs. An Industrial Property Tribunal rules on cases such as rejected applications for registration, with the appellate body being the Supreme Court. As far as copyrights are concerned, the Mauritius Society of Authors administrates the economic rights of copyright owners and exclusive licensees, grants authorization for the use of protected works and is responsible for the collection and distribution of royalties. Moreover, the Ministry of Arts and Culture operates a Copyright Desk responsible for information to the public and registration of Copyright.
For the enforcement of IP rights, the Customs Department of the Mauritius Revenue Authority can intercept the entry of goods suspected of being counterfeits, provided that the Trademark Owner has undertaken prior registration procedures, as detailed below on “Customs Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights”.
Customs Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights
Business operators are encouraged to enforce their IP rights and to actively participate into the fight against counterfeiting by registering their trademarks, or copyrights with the Mauritius Revenue Authority.
This registration will enable the Customs Department to suspend the clearance of goods suspected to be infringing trademarks or copyrights as per Section 66 A of the Customs Act 1988.
To benefit from this protection by Customs, right holders or their authorized users must ensure that:
- Their trademarks are registered at the Industrial Property Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 7th Floor, Moorgate House, Port Louis (Tel. 210 89 00)
- Their copyrights are registered at the Mauritius Society of Authors (MASA), 3rd Floor, NPF Bldg, Douglas Sholte Street, Beau Bassin (Tel. 467 22 19).
- A Customs Application Form, obtainable at the IPR Unit, 2nd Floor, IKS Bldg, Trou Fanfaron, Port Louis or at http://www.gov.mu/portal/sites/mra/index.htm be fully completed and submitted for approval of Mauritius Customs. This application form must be accompanied by the following documents:
(a) Registration Certificate of Trade Mark or Copyright
(b) Letter of Distributorship and Power of Attorney from rights holder in the case of an authorized user
(c) Security in the form of a Bank Guarantee in the amount of Rs 20,000 to protect the Director General of the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) from any claim for damage following the suspension of clearance as required under Section 66(A) (4) of the Customs Act of 1998.
Last Updated on: 19-04-2010