Trademark Registration in Nigeria provided for by Trademark Act LFN 1990 is one key way to protect business invention and ideas and trade symbols in Nigeria.
Every innovator, idealist and entrepreneur should strive at all times to protect his or her business by registering unique symbols or trademark of the business.
Some of the inventions that can be registered include name, slogan, domain name, shape, colour and logo. The trademark is usually registered through the Registry of Trade Marks, Commercial Law Department of the Ministry of Ministry of Trade and Investment in Nigeria.
Trademark registration gives the owner the right to use such registration to exclude others from violating or willfully copying or using his or her ideas or innovation without consent. Registered owners of a trademark may institute an action in Court to block any infringements or unauthorized use of their trademarks.
Essentially, there are two major stages involved in trademark registration, which I will briefly explain as follows:
1) SEARCH, APPLICATION AND ACCEPTANCE STAGE
The first step required to be taken for any person or organization desiring to register a trademark is to brief an Agent, usually a lawyer with the trademark or the description of a symbol or logo or design to be registered.
A search is conducted on the said trademark, and if it does not violate or offend any existing trademark, an application for the registration can proceed.
The Registrar will issue an acknowledgement upon the recipient of any due application. At this stage, the applicant can have a bit confidence, not assurance, in the possibility or success of the entire registration.
It is important to be aware that different payments are to be made at this stage for search and application processing.
2) PUBLICATION AND CERTIFICATION
The second stage involves publication in journal and certification. This is a completion stage.
Upon the acceptance of the registration of a trademark, the Registrar will ensure the notice of the application is published in the Trademark Journal. Such notification will include the conditions and limitations attached to the application.
By virtue of this publication, any interested person would have the opportunity to oppose or object to the registration. Any person or organization who considers that a trademark being sought may likely confuse or mislead the public in light of any pre-existing trademarks may protest to the Registrar to stop such registration.
Protests or oppositions containing the grounds upon which the protest is made must be sent to the Registrar of Trademarks within two months of publication of notice in journal.
The Registrar will notify the applicant of any protest or opposition received. The applicant may respond to such opposition within one month from the date of receipt of such notice from the Registrar. An applicant who failed to respond to the opposition received with his or her own counter- statement may be deemed to have abandoned his or her application.
Where Registrar received the response of the applicant stating why he or she is entitled to such trademark, the Registrar of Trademark shall constitute a Tribunal to determine the conflict in favour of one of the contending parties.
Where there is no opposition to the publication in the journal, or opposition has been made and successfully resolved in favour of the applicant, the Certificate of Registration will be issued for the trademark sought.
The certificate of registration indicates the evidence of due registration and completion of all processes. It confers a right on the proprietor or the owner to use the trademark to the exclusion of every other entity.
However, where any other person or entity successfully challenged the applicant in opposing a trademark registration, the Registrar will issue a letter of refusal to the applicant.
Finally, people often want to know about- how much does it cost it cost to register a trademark in Nigeria ? And cost of filing a patent application in Nigeria ? The prices could be differed most times taking into consideration the professional fee of lawyer handling such application and some add-on services (where necessary) like drafting transfer and ownership agreement on behalf of a clients, which a trademark lawyer may draft after registration. It is hereby advised that one should consult an agent or lawyer to get a fair and precise cost for such services.
There are several benefits attached to trademark registration. Apart from the fact that it helps protect the invention and idea of the proprietor, it also gives the owner a seal of authenticity in the business, which can boost the branding of such entity.
An owner or proprietor of a trademark can sell or lease out his or her trademark to another person or organization. It is also possible for the owner of a trademark to allow certain persons or organization to use his trademark with him.
Trademark lasts for period 7 years and can be renewed after expiration from time to time. Every subsequent registration lasts for 14 years.
Written by Olusola Jegede, a Partner at Resolution Law Firm, Lagos, Nigeria.