Filing in Tanzania? Better Have a Boat!


With the ease of access the Internet provides us, one might imagine that filing a patent should be easy no matter where you are. Sure, we all need help translating documents and understanding the different forms, but one would imagine that with someone helping us click all the right buttons a patent can be filed quickly anywhere. Right? Not necessarily. A recent conversation with one of our partners demonstrated the obstacles that intellectual property lawyers often face.

A little background; the country of Tanzania in East Africa consists of two major regions, Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Zanzibar is a series of islands off the coast of the mainland region of Tanganyika. When the two regions united in the 1960s to form Tan(ganyika)zan(zibar)ia, they agreed that Zanzibar would retain a high level of independence as a semi-autonomous region.

While the two regions remained quite independent, patent firms were able to file patents in one region and have it covered in the other. That was, until recently. We were surprised to learn from one of our partners that things have changed in the country, now, if you want a patent to have full protection you have no option but to file in both regions. One would think that this should still be easy, but we learned to our surprise that it is, in fact, quite the endeavor.

Our partner couldn’t simply file online, instead, they had to travel from Tanganyika to Zanzibar. To do this, they had to take a 4-5 hour boat ride to arrive at the Zanzibari patent office, but when they arrived they discovered that the electricity was out at the office! With a deadline looming, they didn’t turn around to come back another day, instead they stayed in Zanzibar, renting a hotel, just so they can turn the papers in the moment the patent office had power and meet their deadlines

Talk about dedication! We’re always impressed to hear about our partners and their passion for going the extra (nautical) miles for their clients. When faced with a challenge that others might turn down, member firms in the PCT Network embody service and quality, and we couldn’t be more proud to work with them.



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