Prof. Patrick Ogwang has applied to Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) seeking a trademark for Covidex, a herbal drug, which has been approved by the Uganda government as supportive treatment in management of Covid-19.

The move, according to Prof Ogwang, is meant to protect his brand from infringement by other drug makers and those making counterfeits.

He is applying for a trademark under the category of “medical drug (herbal)”.

According to URSB, should the application be approved, the trademark will give Prof Ogwang exclusive use of the word ‘image of COVID-19’ on the Covidex bottles.

This implies Ogwang will have rights to prevent others from using the same or confusingly similar mark.

Prof Ogwang’s application was on June 28 published in the Uganda Gazette – an Official Government publication that contains Notices, Government declarations and supplements, Bills, Statutes, Statutory Instruments and Legal Notices.

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 registration of Ogwang’s trademark is at stage four. The first step requires a person who intends to apply for the registration of a trademark to carry out a search to ascertain whether the trademark exists in the register upon payment of a prescribed fee.

At stage two, a trademark application is then filed upon payment of application fees. The application contains the mark proposed to be used, the class of goods or services, the name, address and the signature of applicant.

Stage three sees the application being examined to determine its inherent registrability and conflict with prior existing registrations /applications.

If accepted, the application goes to stage four where it is advertised in the Uganda Gazette for 60 days.

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.

This implies Ogwang will receive a certificate of registration on September 28 if his application doesn’t meet any resistance.

The application comes as Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) claims ownership of Covidex.

Mbarara University recently said they host the Pham Biotechnology and Traditional Medicine Centre (PHARMBIOTRAC) which is one of the Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centres for Excellence in Uganda that is fully sponsored by government to help support the development of herbal products in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

They said it is through this arrangement that they were able to come up with Covidex.

In a June 14, 2021 letter, MUST’s Vice Chancellor Prof Celestino Obua, said that Covidex is fully owned by the university and that Jena Herbals Uganda Limited, the company owned by Prof Ogwang should stop manufacturing the product unless the University permits.

Ogwang, the inventor of Covidex and Jena Herbals (U) Ltd, the manufacturers has since threatened to sue MUST for 100 billion shillings over ownership of the drug.