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Intellectual property registration in Uganda

In Uganda, Intellectual Property registration are supervised by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) and the most common forms of Intellectual Property in Uganda include:

  1. Copyrights
  2. Trademarks
  3. Patents
  4. Utility models and
  5. Industrial designs

Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Intellectual Property rights grant the owner of the work exclusive rights to exploit and benefit from his/her creation.

It is important to register Intellectual Properties because registration provides an incentive to the innovators or owners of the property and ensures he/she benefits from the result of their endeavor. It also ensures the protection of innovations and encourages the commitment of additional resources for further innovation.

Intellectual Property Registration in Uganda


Copyright refers to protection granted to authors, artists and other creators for their literary and artistic creations, generally referred to as “works”.  In Uganda, the works covered by copyright registration include literary and artistic works such as novels, poems, plays, reference works, newspapers, films, musical compositions, paintings, drawings, photographs, advertisements, maps and technical drawings; sculptures and architecture; and computer programs, applications and databases.

Below are the timeframe for a copyright protection:

  1. For Natural persons, Copyright is protected for the lifetime of the author and 50 years after his death.
  2. For Corporations/ Companies, Copyrights is protected for 50 years after the date of the 1st publication.
  3. Anonymous work or works of unknown authors, 50 years after.
  4. Computer programs; 50 years after the program becomes available to the public.

The procedure for registration of Copyrights in Uganda include:

Step 1:    An application for registration is made to the Registrar of Copyright and an application fee of UGX. 50,000 paid. A copy of the work for which protection is sought must be attached e.g. Books, CD, DVD.

Step 2:   The application is then published in the Uganda Gazette for 60 days.

Step 3:   If no objection is made to the registration of the said right, a certificate of registration will be issued to the applicant. No fee is charged for registration certificate.

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A trademark is a distinctive sign that identifies certain goods or services produced or provided by an individual or a company from those of other enterprises. A Trademark may consist of any word, symbol, design, slogan, logo, sound, smell, colour, label, name, signature, letter, numeral or any combination of them and should be capable of being represented graphically. The Trademark has to be distinctive, non-descriptive and not likely to cause confusion. The Trademark owner has the exclusive rights to prevent others from using the same or confusingly similar mark.

In Uganda, a trademark is valid for seven (7) years from the filing date of the application and may be renewed indefinitely for successive ten (10) year periods upon payment of the prescribed renewal fee. Below are the step-by-step procedure for applying for a trademark in Uganda:

Step 1:    A person who intends to apply for the registration of a trademark shall carry out a search to ascertain whether the trademark exists in the register upon payment of a prescribed fee.

Step 2:   A trademark application is then filed upon payment of application fees. The application should contain the mark proposed to be used, the class of goods or services, the name, address and the signature of applicant. If the applicant is a foreign company, a Power of Attorney or Form of Authorization (TM no. 1) to an agent (Advocate of the High Court) will be required.

Step 3:   The application is then examined to determine its inherent registrability and conflict with prior existing registrations /applications.

Step 4:   If accepted, the application will be advertised in the Uganda Gazette for 60 days.

Step 5:   If there is no opposition after the expiration of 60 days of the advertisement, the Registrar shall upon payment of the prescribed fee by the applicant enter the Trademark in the register and issue a Certificate of registration.


A patent, is an exclusive right granted by the government for an invention. Protected inventions can range from simple things like a safety pin to sophisticated items like juice processing machine. An invention that is Novel, Inventive and is industrially applicable may be granted using a Patent. For the patent to remain in force the patent holder is required to pay annual maintenance fees.

A  Utility Model is an exclusive right granted by the government for an innovation/invention, which is either a product or process that offers a new technical solution to a problem. A product or process that is new and is useful can be protected using this system. 

The term of protection for a Utility Model is 10 years while the term of protection for patents is 20 years. The registration procedure for both Utility Model and Patents include:

Step1:      Submit a filled patent application form and attach a patent document  having  a title, abstract, description, claims and drawings and proof of payment.

Step 2:   URSB receives the document and accords it a filing date and a patent application number.

Step 3:   An application found to be in order is subjected to substantive examination to determine if the claimed invention fulfils all requirements for patentability.

Step 4:   Applicant is notified on grant/refusal of a patent. The applicant is then requested to pay the grant fees and thereafter issued a Certificate of Grant of a patent.


An Industrial Design is defined as the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of a useful article (product). The design may consist of three-dimensional features, such as the shape or surface of an article, or two-dimensional   features, such as patterns, lines or color. An industrial design in simple terms,   is the appearance of a product, it’s what makes a product attractive and appealing to a consumer’s eye.

Industrial designs are applied to a wide variety of products of industry and handicraft items: from packages and containers to furnishing and household goods, from lighting equipment to jewelry, and from electronic devices to textiles. Industrial designs may also apply to graphic symbols and graphical user interfaces (GUI). Industrial design rights are granted for five (5) years renewable for two more consecutive five (5) year term. Below is a step-by-step process of registering an Industrial Design:

Step 1:    Submit an application to URSB.

Step 2:   Formalities Examination of the application – Application is checked to determine if all requirements for application have been provided and is then accorded an application number and filing date.

Step 3:   Substantive examination of application – The application is examined to determine if the design is new and original.

Step 4:   Publication of application – If the design is acceptable for registration, a gazette notice is issued to the applicant to advertise in the Uganda Gazette for 90 days.

Step 5:   Certificate of Registration – If there is no opposition after the expiration of 90 days of the advertisement, the Registrar shall issue a certificate of registration upon payment of the registration fee by the applicant.


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