With coasts along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, Morocco occupies a strategic regional position of great importance. The country has made use of its proximity to Europe and its location in North Africa, along with skilled labor, to work towards building a diverse, open, market-oriented economy. Key sectors of Morocco’s economy include agriculture, tourism, aerospace, automotive, phosphates, textiles, apparel, and sub components. The economic system of the country presents several facets that are characterized by a large opening towards the outside world.
Morocco has recently increased investment in its port, transportation, and industrial infrastructure in order to better position itself as the epicenter for business in the region. Industrial growth policies and infrastructure developments, which are most visibly illustrated by a new port and free trade zone, are improving Morocco’s attractiveness for investment. Morocco’s main industries are the mining and processing of phosphate rock, food processing, manufacturing of leather goods, arts and crafts, textiles, construction, and tourism.
The latest industry taking off in Morocco is the aerospace industry, which has made significant strides over the past decade, with its industrial base growing from around 10 companies to over 100. The industry generated US$1 billion in 2013 and created employment opportunities for 10,000 people in the country. Aerospace exports accounted for six percent of total exports in 2013, up from 0.5 percent a decade earlier. Major manufacturers are present in Morocco and are contributing to the rise of this industry.
Another sector of great ambition in Morocco is renewable energy. The country relies on imports for fossil fuels, but is committed to supply over 50 percent of the country’s needs by 2030 using renewable energy. Several ongoing projects including solar and wind plants are under way with more to come as new technologies are developed and making access to these technologies more affordable.
Morocco is a member of the Paris Convention as well as the Patent Cooperation Treaty. In addition, Morocco is a WTO member and abides by the TRIP’s agreements. Similarly to Algeria, the Moroccan patent system used to be one of grant only. In 2014, the Patent Office in Morocco issued a new intellectual property law amending the existing law with updated provisions. Under the new law, applications are examined substantively, and issued on their merits of novelty, inventiveness, applicability and compliance.
In 2015, the Moroccan government voted into law the agreement of 2010, entered between the Moroccan Patent Office and the European Patent Office. This decision effectively simplified the patenting system in Morocco. All European patent applications filed on or after March 1, 2015 can designate MA at the time of requesting examination. Upon grant of the European patent, the same can be validated in Morocco. Since Morocco is not a European Patent Convention state, the local patent law governs matters relating to infringement, validity, supplementary protection certificates and such.
As a WTO member and a signatory to the TRIP’s agreement, Morocco does provide for an exclusivity period. In addition, pursuant to provisions of its own patent laws, patent term extensions are possible, but in all cases, for no longer than a period of two and half years.
In short, protection of IP assets is a challenging and labor intensive process that requires special consideration and handling. Inventors and owners must be able and ready to adopt a model that incorporates both legal as well as regulatory approaches in order to arrive at a well-established protection strategy in Morocco. For more information on Morocco, we invite you to visit our jurisdictions page.
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