What is a patent?
An official document conferring a sole right/privilege or license to an inventor for a limited period, in  Zimbabwe 20 years. The official document is  specifically called  Letters  Patent. It is different from the invention itself.

What is an invention?
“……….. Any new and useful art, whether producing a physical effect or not, process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter which is not obvious or any new and useful improvement thereof which is not obvious, capable of being used or applied in trade or industry and includes an alleged invention”

How to make an application


  • Fully describes the invention and the manner in which it is to be performed.
  • Discloses the best mode of performing  the  invention, the address for service, full postal, residential and business address.
  • States that the inventor owns the invention in respect of a particular territory.
  • Mentions a convention country, number and date of such application.
  • Carries a claims page defining the subject matter for which protection is sought.
  • The claim (s) must relate to a single invention, be clear and fairly based on the matter disclosed in the specification.

A Patent confers to the patentees full power, sole privileges and authority to make, use, exercise and vend the invention for their economic benefit.

Patents need renewal after every year from the 3rd anniversary up to 20 years.


  • Form P1 & Complete Specification (P5
  • Examination in terms of the Patent Law.
  • Notification of Applicant to advertise Patent in Patents & Trademarks Journal at a prescribed fee in Form PV.8.
  • Opposition (if any) of the Patent by third parties occurs within three months from date of publication.
  • No opposition Patent is issued.



Come in four forms:
Transfer, Licensing, Individual exploitation, Compulsory Licenses.

What can be patented?

  • Must be useful (practically) .
  • Must be new– must have some new characteristic which is not known in the body of existing knowledge in its technical field (prior art).
  • Must show an inventive step which could not be    deduced by a person with average knowledge of the technical field.
  • The subject matter must be accepted as  patentable under the national patent law.

What cannot be patented?

  • Scientific theories.
  • Mathematical methods.
  • Plant or animal varieties.
  • Discoveries of natural substances.
  • Commercial / business methods. (ways of doing business)
  •  Methods for medical treatment (as opposed to    medical products).
  • Frivolous applications– those against established  natural laws.
  • Applications contrary to law e.g. firearms.
  • Substances used as food or medicine.
  • Defense purpose inventions.
  • Secret knowledge.
  • Process of human production.
  • Disclosed/lapsed inventions.
  • Software


  • Decides who may or may not exploit the  protected invention.
  • Permits/licenses others to use the invention on    mutually agreed terms.
  • The inventor can sell the invention outright.
  • These rights expire when the invention enters the public domain that is the public can now exploit the invention without  authorization.
The Zimbabwe Intellectual Property Office was Officially opened in 1894. It opened as a section under the Deeds Office, a set up still existing today. Within the Intellectual Property Office are various registers maintained by the Controller of Patents, Trade Marks and Designs.

Services offered:

Examine applications for grant of patents for inventions and registration of industrial design, trade and service marks, geographical indications, integrated circuits; and uniforms, badges and armorial bearings.
Maintains various intellectual property registers and making them accessible to the public where necessary.
c)         Monitor and appraise the functioning of collecting societies
d)        Promote the use of patent information as a tool for technology development, for example under the      
            TISC initiative; 
e)         Publish regularly in its own publication the patents, marks, and industrial designs, Issued and                    
            approved, and changes made to registered documentation.
Conduct primary hearings on contested intellectual property rights;
Giving advice to the public, the private sector and other government institutes on intellectual property related matters, through seminars, outreaches and exhibitions.

Activities of the Zimbabwe Intellectual Property Office

a)        Liaise with other government agencies, offices and the private sector to  formulate and implement  
           plans and policies to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights in the country through
           various platforms, form example participation in the inter ministerial committee on intellectual
Represent the Government of Zimbabwe in the international fora in intellectual property meetings,  seminars, workshops, committees, and conventions.

Acts Administered
The Patents Acts Chapter 26:03
The Trade marks Acts Chapter 26:04
The Copyright and Neighbouring rights Act Chapter 26:05
The Industrial Designs Act Chapter
The Integrated Circuits Layout-Designs Act, Chapter 26:07
The Armorial Bearings, Names, Uniforms and Badges Act Chapter 10:01
The Geographical Indications Act Chapter 26:06

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