Intellectual property laws in Nigeria - Trademarks, Copyrights


Laws in Nigeria ranging from the Patents and Designs Decree of 1970 to the Copyright Decree of 1988 control the legal environment for intellectual property protection in Nigeria. Relevant acts or decrees that affect the intellectual property protection environment include:

• The Patents and Designs Decree of 1970

• The Trademarks Act of 1965

• The Copyrights Decree of 1988 Trademarks Legal rights to a trademark in Nigeria are established by registering the trademark. A registration is valid from seven (7) years from application and is renewable for additional periods of fourteen (14) years.

Scandalous or deceptive material and names of single chemical compounds can not be registered as a trademark. Copyrights The Copyright Act of 1988 covers;

• Literary works

• Musical works

• Artistic works

• Films

• Sound recordings

• Broadcasts

• Computer software Literary, musical and artistic works are protected by copyright for seventy (70) years after the death of the author. For a business, protection is valid for seventy (70) years after the end of the year in which the work was first published. Films, sound recordings and broadcasts are protected for a period of fifty (50) years after the end of the first year in which the work was first aired, published or recorded. Computer Software is protected for a period of seventy (70) years after the end of the year in which the work was first created.

Patents A patent can be registered for an invention if the invention has not been made available to the public anywhere at any time prior to the date of application and if it does not form part of the state of an art. The invention may have been displayed in an officially recognised exhibition within six months prior to the application date. A patent is valid for twenty (20) years from the date of application and cannot be renewed.

Inventions for public morality, biological processes, scientific discoveries and plant or animal varieties cannot be patented. A patent can also be subject to compulsory licensing. A compulsory license can be granted if, after four (4) years from the patent application date or three (3) years from the grant date, an application is made to the courts showing that a patent is hampering the development of industrial and commercial activities in Nigeria. The refusal of a patent holder to grant a license on reasonable terms, if it is in the public interest or the need to utilise the invention in working a later patent are some instances where compulsory licenses can be granted.

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