Rwanda's 2009 Law on Intellectual Property, expressly excludes pharmaceutical products from patent protection. Rwanda is a member of ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation) and is a signatory to the Harare Protocol. As such, Rwanda can be designated in patent applications filed via ARIPO.

Once a patent application has been examined by ARIPO, the designated member states have an opportunity to reject the application on the basis that the application is incompatible with its national laws. In the past, this option was used very infrequently and applications accepted by ARIPO typically proceeded to grant without further objections.

However, in the past few months we have received a number of rejections of pharmaceutical patent applications from the Rwanda patent office.

Users of the ARIPO system should be advised to consider the designation of states carefully to avoid payment of fees where the subject matter is excluded from protection.

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