Nigeria Patent Law
* Patents and Designs Act no 60 of 1970 (Chapter 344, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990)
* Patent Rules, 1971
English (official language)
Nigeria is a member of the following international agreements:
* Berne Convention (since 1993)
* Paris Convention (since 1963)
* Patent Cooperation Treaty (since 2005)
* Patent Law Treaty (since 2005)
* Rome Convention (since 1993)
* WIPO Convention (since 1995)
* WTO/TRIPS (since 1995)
Patent application filing requirements in Nigeria:
* Full particulars of the applicant
* Power of Attorney (simply signed)
* Assignment from the inventors or a statement by the applicant justifying its right to the invention (if applicable)
* Specification (including claims, drawings and abstract), in English
* Certified copy of the priority document (if applicable).
Nigeria Patent Registration Procedure
Non-convention, convention and PCT national phase applications are filed with the office of the Registrar of Patents. The Acknowledgment and Acceptance letter is issued in two (2) months after filing date.
Applications are subjected to formal examination only, which takes place automatically. There is no examination as to novelty, and if the formal requirements are satisfied, a patent will be granted in due course.
The Act makes no provision for the filing of opposition to a pending patent application.
After examination, if the Registrar is satisfied that the necessary requirements have been met he shall grant the patent. The Act requires that details of all granted patents should be published in the Journal after grant. However, in practice this is not always done. The patent is published 6 months after filing date.
If not obstacle arise, the patent is registered. Four (4) Months after publication date.
The timeframe from filing to registration is from 9 to 12 months, approximately.
An applicant who has filed a patent application in a convention country is entitled to claim priority from such earlier application, provided the application is filed within 12 months from the earlier application.
The term of a patent obtained in Nigeria is 20 years.
Annual renewal fees are payable, and a six month grace period is available.
Trademark Law in Nigeria
Legal basis is the Trade Marks Act no. 29 of 1967 (Chapter 436, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990) and the Trade Marks Regulations, 1967. Since 1967, Bills to amend the Trade Marks Act that have been drafted, but none of the Bills has been finalised or promulgated into Law.
Member of the Paris Convention and the TRIPS.
Nice classification, 11th edition. Nigeria is a single class jurisdiction and a separate application must be filed for each class, in which the applicant desires to register his mark, irrespective of the number of classes. In other words, application is "per trademark per class".
A simply signed Power of Attorney (POA).
Nigeria Trademark Registration Procedure
The application is filed at the Nigerian Registry of Trade Marks, Patents and Designs (IPONIGERIA).
After the filing of the application, an official 'Acknowledgement Receipt' which reflects the official number and filing date of the application is issued by the Registrar in one month from filing date.
The Registrar then carries a preliminary search for distinctiveness from existing and pending registrations. That is, the application is examined by considering potential conflicts with prior registered or pending marks. Inherent unregistrability of the mark is also taken into consideration.
A letter 'Notice of Acceptance' is furnished to the applicant if the trademark is accepted for registration.
The trademark application is then advertised in the Nigerian Trade Mark Journal after six (6) months of filing date.
National Opposition Period
Any objection to the registration of an application advertised in the Trade Marks Journal must be lodged by way of a Notice of opposition within 2 months from the date the application was published in the journal and shall include the grounds of opposition. Service of the notice of opposition must be done through the office of the Registrar; accordingly, on receipt of the notice of opposition as filed, the Registrar is mandated to serve a copy to the Applicant, who has 1 month from the date of service to file a response in the form of a counter statement. Failure to file a counter statement within the prescribed period of one month will result in the application being deemed abandoned.
Thereafter, the opponent shall file the evidence in support of his opposition by way of statutory declaration and if it does not, he shall be deemed to have abandoned his opposition. Upon receipt of the opponent’s statutory declaration, the applicant is also given the opportunity to file his own statutory declaration, adducing evidence upon which he relies for his defense, Thereafter, the opponent may also file evidence reply by way of a statutory declaration within one month.
After that, no further evidence shall be left on either side and the Registrar shall subsequently give notice of hearing and the matter shall be decided.
If no opposition is lodged against the said trademark application within two months from the date of publication of the application in the journal, a certificate of registration is then issued by the Registrar. Extension of the opposition deadline is not possible.
The date of initial filing is the date that is indicated on the official Acknowledgement Receipt/Form that is issued by the Registrar and it is taken as the legal date of registration of the trade mark, irrespective of how long it takes to complete the registration.
Applicants should bear in mind that, although the application procedure has recently been reviewed and e-filing has been introduced, the registration procedure needs several years to complete.
It has also recently been uncovered, that many trademark applications have actually never been filed. Some corrupt agents have, instead of paying the official filing fees, bribed an official in the Trade Mark Office to receive a false 'Acknowledgement Receipt' and even fake Acceptance Letters, Certificates of Registration etc. Applicants are well advised to keep copies of all official documents, including the receipts for the payment of the official taxes.
The timeframe from filing to registration is about 2 years or more, depending largely on when the application is published and other administrative factors on the part of the Registry.
A trademark registration is valid for an initial period of 7 years from the date of application. The trademark registration can thereafter be renewed indefinitely for subsequent periods of 14 years each. An application for renewal should be made not less than 3 months from the due date.
The 1967 Act does provide for the filing of convention priority claims. However, this provision has been made subject to certain qualifications, one of which is that convention countries must first be recognised by way of a declaration published in the Federal Gazette. Priority claims may thus not be recognised in Nigeria until such time as a declaration has been published. However, it would appear that the Nigerian Registry does accept priority applications.
Cancellation for removal of a trade mark
Any person concerned may apply in the prescribed manner to the Registrar or to the court for an order making, expunging or varying an entry in the case of –
* the non-insertion in or omission from the register of any entry
* an entry wrongly made in the register without sufficient cause
* an entry wrongly remaining on the register
* any error or defect in any entry in the register.
The procedure for the cancellation is very similar to the procedure for opposition. However, the Registrar shall not rectify the register or remove the mark from the register merely because the registered proprietor has not filed a counter-statement. In any case of doubt, any party may apply to the Registrar for directions.
A trade mark registration may also be cancelled and the trade mark removed from the register on any of the grounds on which the trade mark application could have been opposed. Finally, a trade mark registration can be cancelled on the grounds discussed under the use requirement below, namely non-use for a specified period, or lack of bona fide intention to use.
Any person concerned may apply to the Registrar or the court for the removal/cancellation of a registered trade mark on the grounds that:
* it was registered by the proprietor without any bona fide intention to use the mark in connection with the relevant goods, and that there has in fact been no bona fide use thereof in connection with such goods.
* that up to a date one month before the date of application for cancellation, there has been no bona fide use of the trade mark in connection with such goods for a continuous period of five years or longer unless in either case such non-use is shown to be due to special circumstances in the trade and not to any intention not to use or to abandon the trade mark in relation to such goods.