Ethiopia

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The constitution recognizes and protects ownership of private property.  However, all land in Ethiopia belongs to “the people” and is administered by the government.  Private ownership does not exist, but land-use rights have been registered in most populated areas.  As land is public property, it cannot be mortgaged. Confusion with respect to the registration of urban land-use rights, particularly in Addis Ababa, is common.  Allegations of corruption in the allocation of urban-land to private investors by government agencies are a major source of popular discontent. The government retains the right to expropriate land for the common good, which it defines as including expropriation for commercial farms, industrial zones, and infrastructure development.  While the government claims to allocate only sparsely settled or empty land to investors, some people have been resettled. In particular, traditional grazing land has often been defined as empty and expropriated, leading to resentment, protests and, in some cases, conflict. In addition, leasehold regulations vary in form and practice by region.  Successful investors in Ethiopia conduct thorough due diligence on land titles at both state and federal levels, and conduct consultations with local communities regarding the proposed use of the land before investing.

We encourage potential investors to ensure their needs are communicated clearly to the host government.  It is important for investors to understand who had land-use rights preceding them, and to research the attitude of local communities to an investor’s use of that land, particularly in region of Oromia, where conflict between international investors and local communities has occurred.

The 2019 World Bank Doing Business Report has ranked Ethiopia 144 out of 190 economies in registering property, as it take on average 52 days to register property.

Intellectual Property Rights

The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) oversees intellectual property rights (IPR) issues.  Ethiopia is not yet a signatory to a number of major IPR treaties, such as the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty, the Berne Convention for Literary and Artistic Works, the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks, or the Patent Cooperation Treaty.  The government expressed its intention to accede to the Berne Convention, the Paris Convention, the Marrakesh Protocol, and the Madrid Protocol. To meet this objective, EIPO is drafting a ratification proclamation. EIPO has been tasked primarily to protect Ethiopian patents and copyrights and to fight pirated software. Generally, EIPO is weak in terms of staff and budget, and it does not have law enforcement authority.  Abuse of U.S. trademarks is rampant, particularly in the hospitality and retail sectors. The government does not publicly track counterfeit goods seizures, and no estimates are available. Ethiopia is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or Notorious Markets List.

EIPO contact and office information is available at http://www.eipo.gov.et/  

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles   from this page

http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/details.jsp?country_code=ET  

Embassy POC: Economic Officer, Helena Schrader, USEmbassyPolEconExternal@state.gov

Morocco

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Morocco permits foreign individuals and foreign companies (i.e. companies whose share capital is owned in whole or in part by a foreign individual or company) to own land, but not agricultural land.  Foreigners may acquire agricultural land in order to carry out an investment or other economic project that is not agricultural in nature, subject to first obtaining a certificate of non-agricultural use from the authorities.  Morocco has a formal registration system maintained by the National Agency for Real Estate Conservation, Property Registries, and Cartography (ANCFCC), which issues titles of land ownership.   Approximately 30 percent of land is registered in the formal system, and almost all of that is in urban areas.   In addition to the formal registration system, there are customary documents called moulkiya issued by traditional notaries called adouls.  While not providing the same level of certainty as a title, a moulkiya can provide some level of security of ownership.  Morocco also recognizes prescriptive rights whereby an occupant of a land under the moulkiya system (not lands duly registered with ANCFCC) can establish ownership of that land upon fulfillment of all the legal requirements, including occupation of the land for a certain period of time (10 years if the occupant and the landlord are not related and 40 years if the occupant is a parent).  There are other specific legal regimes applicable to some types of lands, among which:

  • Collective lands: lands which are owned collectively by some tribes, whose members only benefit from rights of usufruct;
  • Public lands: lands which are owned by the Moroccan State;
  • Guich lands: lands which are owned by the Moroccan State, but whose usufruct rights are vested upon some tribes;
  • Habous lands: lands which are owned by a party (the State, a certain family, a religious or charity organization, etc.) subsequent to a donation, and the usufruct rights of which are vested upon such party (usually with the obligation to allocate the proceeds to a specific use or to use the property in a certain way).

Morocco’s rating for “Registering Property” improved over the past year, with a ranking of 68 out of 190 countries worldwide in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report, 18 places higher than in 2018.  According to the same report, Morocco made registering property easier by increasing the transparency of the land registry/cadaster and by streamlining administrative procedures.

Intellectual Property Rights

The Ministry of Industry, Trade, Investment, and the Digital Economy oversees the Moroccan Office of Industrial and Commercial Property (OMPIC), which serves as a registry for patents and trademarks in the industrial and commercial sectors.  The Ministry of Communications oversees the Moroccan Copyright Office (BMDA), which registers copyrights for literary and artistic works (including software), enforces copyright protection, and coordinates with Moroccan and international partners to combat piracy.  The Ministry of Communication supported the enactment of new copyright decrees on May 20, 2014, which obligate the police to work on behalf of BMDA to investigate suspected cases of copyright infringement, including the illegal selling/production of unlicensed media and illegal media use on the radio or television.  Additionally, the Ministry of Communication and BMDA formed a national anti-piracy committee responsible for developing a plan for consistent action in combating copyright infringement and counterfeit goods.

In 2016, the Ministry of Communication and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) signed an MOU to expand cooperation to ensure the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) in Morocco.  The MOU committed both parties to improving the judicial and operational dimensions of Morocco’s copyright enforcement.  Following this MOU, in November 2016, BMDA launched WIPOCOS, a database developed by WIPO for collective management organizations or societies that aims to ensure a timely, transparent, and autonomous distribution of royalties.  Despite of these positive changes, BMDA’s current focus on redefining its legal mandate and relationship with other copyright offices worldwide has appeared to lessen its enforcement capacity.

Law No. 23-13 on Intellectual Property Rights increased penalties for violation of those rights and better defines civil and criminal jurisdiction and legal remedies.  It also set in motion an accreditation system for patent attorneys in order to better systematize and regulate the practice of patent law.  Law No. 34-05, amending and supplementing Law No. 2-00 on Copyright and Related Rights, includes 15 items (Articles 61 to 65) devoted to punitive measures against piracy and other copyright offenses.  These range from civil and criminal penalties to the seizure and destruction of seized copies.  Judges’ authority in sentencing and criminal procedures is proscribed, with little power to issue harsher sentences that would serve as stronger deterrents.

OMPIC enacted a Strategic Plan for 2016-2020 to strengthen the institution’s capacity to carry out its core mandate of granting industrial and commercial property titles and enforcing IPR.  This new strategic plan focuses on promoting quality, transparency, and a service-oriented organizational culture, while underscoring the important role that IPR protection has in promoting innovation under Morocco’s 2014-2020 Industrial Acceleration Plan.

Moroccan authorities appear committed to cracking down on counterfeiting but, due to resource constraints, have chosen to focus enforcement efforts on the most problematic areas, specifically areas with public safety and/or significant economic impact.  In 2017, BMDA brought approximately a dozen court cases against copyright infringers and collected USD 6.1 million in copyright collections.  In 2018, Morocco’s customs authorities seized USD 62.7 million worth of counterfeit items. In 2018, Morocco also created a National Customs Brigade charged with countering the illicit trafficking of counterfeit goods and narcotics.

In 2015, Morocco and the European Union concluded an agreement on the protection of Geographic Indications (GIs), which is currently pending ratification by both the Moroccan and European parliaments.  Should it enter into force, the agreement would grant Moroccan GIs sui generis. The U.S. government continues to urge Morocco to undergo a transparent and substantive assessment process for the EU GIs in a manner consistent with Morocco’s existing obligations, including those under the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement.

Morocco is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or Notorious Markets List.

For additional information about IPR treaty obligations and points of contact at government offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at https://www.wipo.int/directory/en/  .

For assistance, please refer to the U.S. Embassy local lawyers’ list ( at https://ma.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/attorneys/), as well as to the regional U.S. IP Attaché at https://ma.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/attorneys/.

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