A trademark is a symbol or a sign which differentiates the goods and services of one business from another one. You can register your trademark – a name, logo, slogan, domain name, shape, colour or sound with the Commercial Law department, Ministry of Trade and Investment in Nigeria. This can legally protect your trademark from use by a competitor. The trademark must be distinctive for the goods and services that you provide, not be deceptive, illegal or immoral and not be similar to existing trademarks.
A trademark provides protection to the owner of the mark by ensuring the exclusive right to use it to identify goods or services, or to authorize another to use it in return for payment. The period of protection varies, but a trademark can be renewed indefinitely beyond the time limit on payment of additional fees. Trademark protection is enforced by the courts, which in most systems have the authority to block trademark infringement.
In a larger sense, trademarks promote initiative and enterprise worldwide by rewarding the owners of trademarks with recognition and financial profit. Trademark protection also hinders the efforts of unfair competitors, such as counterfeiters, to use similar distinctive signs to market inferior or different products or services. The system enables people with skill and enterprise to produce and market goods and services in the fairest possible conditions, thereby facilitating international trade.
A patent protects new inventions and covers how things work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made. It gives the owner the right to prevent others from making, using, importing or selling the invention without permission. Your invention must be new, have an inventive step that is not obvious to someone with knowledge and experience in the subject, be capable of being made or used in some kind of industry and not be, a scientific or mathematical discovery, theory or method, a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, a way of performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business, the presentation of information, or some computer programs, an animal or plant variety, a method of medical treatment or diagnosis, against public policy or morality.
The Patents and Designs Act of 1971 Cap. 344 is the substantive law governing affairs of patents in Nigeria, while the Patent, while the Patents Rules regulates the procedures adopted at the Patent Registry. Under section 26 Patent and Designs Act, the Jurisdiction to hear and dispose of legal proceedings under the PDA is vested in the Federal High Court and the section also provides that the provisions of the Trade Marks Act applicable to legal proceedings under the Act shall apply with necessary modifications to legal proceedings under the PDA.
An Industrial Design is the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of an article. The design may consist of three-dimensional features, such as the shape of an article, or two-dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or colour. Industrial Designs are applied to a wide variety of products of industry and handicrafts such as technical and medical instruments, watches, jewellery, house-ware, electrical appliances, vehicles, architectural structures, textile designs, leisure goods and other luxury items. Industrial Designs make an article attractive and appealing, thereby adding to its commercial value and increasing its marketability. To be protected in Nigeria, an Industrial Design must appeal to the eye. This means that an Industrial Design is primarily of an aesthetic nature, and does not protect any technical features of the article to which it is applied.
PROTECTION OF INDUSTRIAL DESIGN:
In most countries, an Industrial Design must be registered in order to be protected under Industrial Design law. As a general rule, to be registrable, the design must be “new” or “original”. Different countries have varying definitions of such terms, as well as variations in the registration process itself. Generally, “new” means that no identical or very similar design is known to have existed before. Once a design is registered, a registration certificate is issued. Depending on the particular national law and the kind of design, an Industrial Design may also be protected as a work of art under copyright law. In which case registration is not required. In some countries, Industrial Design and copyright protection can exist concurrently. In other countries, they are mutually exclusive: once the owner chooses one kind of protection, he can no longer invoke the other. In certain countries, an Industrial Design may also be protected against imitation under unfair competition law. The owner of a protected Industrial Design is granted the right to prevent unauthorized copying or imitation of the design by others. This includes the right of making, offering, importing, exporting or selling any product in which the design is incorporated or to which it is applied. He may also license or authorize others to use the design on mutually agreed terms. The owner may also sell the right to the Industrial Design to someone else. The term of protection under Industrial Design laws is generally five years, with the possibility of further periods of renewal up to, in most cases, 15 years. Generally, Industrial Design protection is limited to the country in which protection is granted.
PROTECTING AN INDUSTRIAL DESIGN:
Helps to ensure a fair return on investment; Improves the competitiveness of a business against copying and imitating the design by competitors; Helps to increase the commercial value of a company, as successful Industrial Designs constitute business assets; Encourages creativity in the industrial and manufacturing sectors, as well as in traditional arts and crafts.
Copyright is a bundle of exclusive rights granted by Government to the creator of an original work for a limited period of time, in exchange for the public disclosure of the work. Copyright protected works fall into eight broad categories:
Literary Works including books, software code, sheet music, poetry, short stories and plays and works that incorporate text.
Musical Works including musical compositions, instrumental compositions, songs and compositions accompanied with words.
Artistic Works including paintings, artwork, architectural designs and drawings.
Cinematograph Films including videos, movies and recorded dramas or screenplays.
Sound Recordings include any record of a sequence of sounds capable of being heard by the ear, other than musical compositions.
Broadcasts including sound or video broadcasts through wired, wireless, satellite or cable transmission; and rebroadcasts of any broadcast.
In addition to these categories, the Copyright Act also protects ‘Neighbouring Rights’ including the Expressions of Folklore and Performer’s Rights. The Act grants Performers the exclusive right to control the performing, recording, live broadcast, reproduction and adaptation of a dramatic, dance, musical or literary performance.
The Copyright Act, Chapter C28 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 regulates the operation and administration of Copyright in Nigeria. The Act establishes the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) to oversee the operation of the Act, the NCC is also and conferred with wide powers which include the authority to prosecute infringement, license collective management societies and manage licenses for indigenous works.