10 KEY FACTS & BENEFITS YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT TRADEMARK REGISTRATION IN NIGERIA
- The government agency in charge of trademark registration in Nigeria is the Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry, Commercial Law Department of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The trademark registration can be done through the accredited agents of the registry. Most law firms who engaged in intellectual property services such as Resolution Law Firm are accredited agents of the Trademarks Registry.
- Failure to register a trademark for your goods and services may give room to other persons to exploit your goods and services, register a similar trademark ahead of you and restrict you not only from using the trademark but also from selling your goods and services.
- Trademark registration is a mandatory requirement to register your product with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and obtain a NAFDAC registration number.
- There are 6(six) major steps involved in trademark registration in Nigeria. These steps are:
- Searching a proposed mark to be registered at the appropriate trademark class
- Filing of trademark application
- Examination of trademark application by the trademark examiner
- Issuance of acceptance letter
- Publication of trademark in trademark journal
- Collection of the trademark certificate
- Foreign companies, local companies as well as any individual in any part of the world are eligible to file for the registration of a trademark with the trademark registry. The trademark item can be words, marks, numbers, name, device, signature, logo etc or a combination of any of these items.
- For a trademark to be registrable, it must meet up with any of the followings requirements:
- It must be distinctive (unique)
- It must not resemble the flag, coat of arms, or emblem of any country without appropriate authorization
- It must not be contrary to public morality, deceptive or scandalous
- It must not conflict with any existing trademark registered in that class or category
- Where there is any infringement on a registered trademark, i.e. where another person other than the owner of the registered trademark markets his or her products or services using the registered trademark, both civil and criminal action can be commenced against such infringer. A civil suit can be commenced at the Federal High Court according to the provisions of the Trade Marks Act, 2004. Also, the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act, 2015 criminalizes the use of a trademark on the internet or any other computer network without the consent and authority of the owner or interfering with the right of the owner in respect of a trademark. Upon conviction, such an offender is liable to imprisonment or fine or both.
- Trademark is considered intellectual property and as such, it can be licensed or franchised by the owner of the registered trademark to other persons or corporate bodies. It can also be transferred, assigned or sold like any real property.
- There are 45 classes of trademarks for products and services. This is known as the Nice classification and is open to states who are parties to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. This classification is used both nationally and internationally. Trademark applicants are at liberty to choose which category best suits their goods and services.
- Trademark is territorial, this means that an applicant must register their trademark in all the countries where they seek protection for their products and services. However, there are regional organizations like the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation, etc which affords trademark protection to applicant’s products and services in all the member states within their Organisation. Nigeria currently does not belong to any regional organization, so the only way to register a trademark in Nigeria is through the Trademarks registry based in Abuja.
Written by Intellectual Property Unit at Resolution Law Firm