News & insights

Morocco: Increasing IP Asset Value in an Emerging Economy

August 31, 2016

With coasts along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, Morocco occupies a regional position of great importance. Morocco has made use of its proximity to Europe and its location at the gates of the Western Mediterranean, 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 subcomponents. The economic system of the country presents several facets that is 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.

Industries and Economy

Morocco’s key trade is importing and exporting. Morocco has an extensive infrastructure to support active oil and gas exploration and a vibrant production industry. Major seaports, roadways, airports, pipelines and refineries are near large cities endowed with proper amenities. The downstream oil-industry of Morocco is well developed. The country has two oil refineries with a total refining capacity of 150,000 barrels per day.

The strongest point of Moroccan industry is phosphate mining. Morocco houses approximately two thirds of the world’s phosphate reserves. Although it employs only two percent of the population, phosphate mining is responsible for half of the nation’s income.

The newest industry that is 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 to date. The industry has generated US$1 billion in turnover in 2013 and was provided 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.

As a result of these progressive steps, Morocco has become a major player in regional economic affairs, and is the fifth African economy by GDP (PPP). Morocco has significantly liberalized its trade system and strengthened its financial sector. It retains strong international market confidence and continues to attract significant Foreign Direct Investment inflows. The country is an important emerging market, as Morocco’s annual GDP growth averaged 4.5 percent over the past year, and as of 2005, Morocco has the second-largest non-oil GDP in the Arab world, behind Egypt. Morocco’s GDP is estimated to be US$273.5 billion, while the GDP per capita is US$8,200. Services account for 57.2 percent of GDP, and industry, made up of mining, construction and manufacturing, is at 29 percent. Agriculture, on the other hand, accounts for 13.8 percent of GDP.

IP Legal Framework

Morocco has a relatively comprehensive regulatory and legislative system for the protection of Intellectual Property. Morocco issued Law No. 23-13 on December 18, 2014, which amended and completed Law No. 17-97 of 2000. The new law entered to force on the date of announcement and publication in the official gazette. The law includes provisions on the protection of patents, integrated circuits, industrial designs, trademarks, and trade names. Furthermore, pursuant to Law no. 23-13 amending and completing Law no. 17-97 on the Protection of Industrial Property, European Patent (EP) applications filed on or after March 1, 2015 may designate Morocco and EP grants may be validated in Morocco. Although Morocco is not a European Patent Convention (EPC) member state, the Law provides the country a pseudo-EPC status with regards to patent procurement, and is expected to encourage more filings and more foreign investment. It will still be possible to file patent applications in Morocco via PCT national stage entry or claiming Paris Convention.

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 well-established protection strategy in Morocco. For more information on Morocco, we invite you to visit our jurisdictions page.

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