Trade secret protection is a critical aspect of intellectual property law for businesses worldwide. A trade secret is any confidential information that provides a business with a competitive advantage, such as customer lists, formulas, designs, and other valuable data. In Nigeria, trade secret protection is not expressly provided for under any specific legislation. However, there are legal avenues available for business owners to protect their trade secrets, such as common law, contract law, and industrial property law.
Here are some steps business owners can take to keep their trade secrets safe:
IDENTIFY AND CLASSIFY TRADE SECRETS
The first step in protecting trade secrets is to identify and classify the information as confidential. This can be done by determining which information is essential to the business’s operations and competitive edge. Once identified, businesses can take measures to limit access to the information and ensure that it is only disclosed on a need-to-know basis.
IMPLEMENT SECURITY MEASURES
Businesses can implement various security measures to protect their trade secrets, such as access controls, password protection, encryption, and physical security measures. These measures can help prevent unauthorized access to confidential information and reduce the risk of theft or misappropriation.
DRAFT NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS (NDAS)
An NDA is a legal agreement between two or more parties that outlines the confidential information that will be shared and the conditions under which it will be disclosed. By entering into an NDA, businesses can protect their trade secrets from disclosure or unauthorized use by third parties.
CONDUCT EMPLOYEE TRAINING AND AWARENESS PROGRAMS
Businesses can also conduct employee training and awareness programs to educate employees on the importance of trade secret protection and the consequences of violating NDAs. By doing so, businesses can reduce the risk of trade secret misappropriation by employees.
EXAMPLES OF TRADE SECRET MISAPPROPRIATION CASES
Trade secret misappropriation cases have been reported worldwide, with some of the most high-profile cases occurring in the United States. In one case, a former employee of Google was accused of stealing confidential trade secrets related to self-driving car technology and using them to start a competing company. The case was settled out of court, with Google receiving a payout and an agreement that the former employee would not use any of Google’s trade secrets.
In another case, a former employee of DuPont was accused of stealing trade secrets related to Kevlar, a material used in body armor, and selling the information to a competitor. The employee was found guilty of theft of trade secrets, and DuPont was awarded $920 million in damages.
In a third case, a former employee of Coca-Cola was accused of stealing confidential documents related to a new product launch and attempting to sell them to Pepsi. The employee was sentenced to eight years in prison for trade secret theft and wire fraud.
Trade secret protection is a vital aspect of business operations worldwide. By taking steps to identify and classify trade secrets, implementing security measures, drafting NDAs, and conducting employee training and awareness programs, businesses can keep their trade secrets safe. It is crucial to consult with legal professionals such as Regville Associates to ensure that your trade secrets are adequately protected.
Starting a new business is an exciting and challenging endeavor, but it can also be risky. Legal and tax mistakes are common among startups and can lead to significant financial losses and legal trouble. In this article, we will discuss five common legal and tax mistakes made by startups and how to avoid them.
1. NOT INCORPORATING: One common mistake made by startups is failing to incorporate their business, which can lead to personal liability for the company’s debts and legal issues.
2. NOT PROTECTING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: Startups often overlook the importance of protecting their intellectual property, such as trademarks and patents, which can lead to legal disputes and financial losses.
3. NOT KEEPING ACCURATE FINANCIAL RECORDS: Many startups fail to keep accurate financial records, which can lead to legal issues and difficulty in obtaining funding.
4. NO UNDERSTANDING TAX LAWS AND DUE DATES: Startups often make the mistake of not understanding the tax laws and regulations that apply to their business, which can lead to penalties and fines.
5. NOT HAVING A CLEAR EQUITY SPLIT AMONG FOUNDERS: Startups often make the mistake of not having a clear equity split among the founders, which can lead to disagreements and legal issues. It is important to have a clear agreement in place from the beginning.
To avoid or remedy these pitfalls, contact us today
According to Investopedia, the term trademark refers to a recognizable insignia, phrase, word, or symbol that denotes a specific product and legally differentiates it from all other products of its kind. A trademark exclusively identifies a product as belonging to a specific company and recognizes the company’s ownership of the brand.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE GRANT OF TRADEMARKS IN NIGERIA
TRADEMARK SEARCH: This is to confirm the registrability of the mark if it doesn’t infringe on any existing mark or is similar to any already registered mark.
Owner of Mark (Company or Individual)
Address of Mark Owner
Trademark (Name, Sound or Device)
Class of Specification of Goods/Services
Specification of Goods/Services Description
Attach Power of Attorney
Upon Approval/Acceptance, a Trademark Acceptance Letter is issued.
TRADEMARK CERTIFICATE: Kindly note that Acceptance Letter should not be misconstrued as a certificate. Not until the mark has been published in the Trademark Journal and not opposed within two months can an application be made to the Registrar for a Trademark certificate.
Regville Associates offers end-to-end legal, tax and secretarial service for companies. We are an Accredited Agent of the Ministry of Trade and Investment, Department of Commercial Law, where Intellectual Property such as Trademarks, Patents and Designs are registered. We will be happy to hear from you regarding your Intellectual Property protection.
What are Trade Secrets, and How Can they be Protected in Nigeria?
For decades, most companies and corporations worldwide have done virtually everything possible to conceal their trade secrets from the public. Similarly, protecting trade secrets is important for any company that wants to stay prosperous and function perfectly for a long time.
For information to be declared a trade secret under the law of certain countries, a company must take reasonable steps to keep it hidden from the general public, have economic value on its own, and contain relevant information. Trade secrets are a part of a company’s intellectual property.
What are Trade Secrets?
Trade secrets are the process of production or practice that looks valuable to a company and is not to be generally known or revealed to the public. Trade secrets are valuable to every company because they serve as a competitive strategy or advantage that the company has over its competitors.
The Scope of Trade Secrets
The development of trade secrets began with keeping confidential information away from society. This concept is said to be traced back to the middle of the 19th century, which served as a period when capitalism was on the rise. However, trade secrets became inoperative when it was realized that the concept would be a relevant part of the law.
However, it should be noted that the case of Prince Albert v Strange played a crucial part in developing the area of law in as much as trade secrets are concerned. According to the facts of the case, the Queen and Prince Albert made artwork (which are specifically etchings) for the sole purpose of their amusement and their private entertainment, but they sometimes had prints to give to friends. As a result, the defendant had made unauthorized copies intending to put them on public display. Accordingly, an injunction was granted to restrain him from doing so.
Suppose the authority of the relevant law had helped to restrain third parties from taking credit for other people’s research, hard work, and valuable information. In that case, trade secrets don’t necessarily have to be innovations or inventions. Still, they should serve as valuable information regarding processes, finance, and technical know-how, which should not be known or made available to the general public.
The rationale for the Protection of Trade Secrets
One of the frequently asked questions which need to be answered in the world of intellectual property rights is- why should trade secrets be protected when it is already a secret? The best answer to this challenging but demanding question is that when a trade secret of a business is said to be protected, that protection preserves the ingenuity of such a secret since it has a real economic value in the eyes of the company protecting it. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), protecting trade secrets will assist most businesses in the following:
1. A strategic motive to prevent competitors from utilizing similar ideas or innovations without bearing the expense or risk associated with developing the innovations.
2. Maintaining and promoting specific standards of commercial ethics and fair dealing.
3. Provides the best idea for businesses to innovate by protecting the substantial time and capital invested in developing innovations that are competitively advantageous in the sphere of technology or commerce, especially those that are kept secret or do not merit the cost of patenting.
You should also know that since trade secrets serve as intangible property, they can be utilized as collateral in the event of debt financing.
How are Trade Secrets Protected in Nigeria?
Trade secrets also serve as confidential information in some jurisdictions and become public knowledge when lost. The protection also goes forever as a result of this. In Nigeria, the law concerning trade secrets could be more systematic. Although there are several technology-driven start-ups in Nigeria, the regulation of intellectual property is a limitation to the likes of Patents, Copyright, Designs, and Trademark.
Suppose there is an absence of any definite law that seeks to protect and regulate trade secrets in Nigeria. In that case, the architect of such a trade secret has to endeavor to protect such information from being disclosed to a third party.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are Trade Secrets Protected in Nigeria?
The concept of trade secrets in Nigeria was derived from common law. As a result, persons and private and even public companies have relied upon contract laws and other legal principles to prove a claim for the misappropriation of trade secrets.
What Qualifies as Trade Secrets?
A trade secret will be qualified as one if it is subject to reasonable efforts to keep it secret, has actual or potential independent economic worth due to not being commonly known, and has value to others who cannot access the information legally.
What is the Trade Secret of Coca-Cola?
According to a source from the web, the secret recipe for Coca-Cola is called pepsin, which is a digestive enzyme extracted from the stomach of pigs. However, Coca-Cola was initially referred to as Pepsin Cola in 1896 and then Pepsi-Cola in 1898.
However, the name Coca-Cola was created by Pemberton, a medicine inventor and morphine addict. This drink was made from a secret mixture of stimulant cocoa leaf and African kola nuts containing caffeine.
What is the Difference Between Trademarks and Trade Secrets?
Firstly, what needs to be known is that trademarks protect products, brand names, and services. In addition, the product’s logo is also protected by the package design. On the other hand, Trade secrets are certain kind of intellectual property that includes things like patent, copyright, and trademarks.
Why is Trade Secret Better Than Copyright?
The protection of trade secrets is not limited to twenty years, like patents or copyrights (100 years). Restricting access to information or limiting the number of people with knowledge of it is most of the ways to protect trade secrets.
Trade secrets are an essential component of intellectual property portfolios, enabling organizations to safeguard their exclusive know-how, secret formulas, and other basic knowledge that are not public information, whose secrecy provides an economic benefit to their holder, and there is also active protection.
For further inquiries about intellectual property protection. Feel Free to contact us
A trademark is a distinct sign, mark, design or expression which distinguishes goods and services. According to the Trademarks Act. In order to ensure uniformity across various jurisdictions, the International Classification of Goods and Services (“Nice Classification”) was established by the Nice Agreement 1957.
This classification system is used in Nigeria as well as in several countries globally for the registration of trademarks. The Nice Classification groups together similar goods and services into 45 different classes. Goods are listed in classes 1 to 34 while Services are listed in classes 35 to 45.
CLASSES FOR GOODS
Class 1: Chemicals used in industry, science and photography, as well as in agriculture, horticulture and forestry; unprocessed artificial resins, unprocessed plastics; manures; fire extinguishing compositions; tempering and soldering preparations; chemical substances for preserving foodstuffs; tanning substances; adhesives used in industry; unprocessed plastics in the form of liquids, chips or granules.
Class 2: Paints, varnishes, lacquers; preservatives against rust and against deterioration of wood; colorants; mordants; raw natural resins; metals in foil and powder form for painters, decorators, printers and artists.
Class 3: Bleaching preparations and other substances for laundry use; cleaning, polishing, scouring and abrasive preparations; soaps; perfumery, essential oils, cosmetics, hair lotions; dentifrices.
Class 4: Industrial oils and greases; lubricants; dust absorbing, wetting and binding compositions; fuels and illuminants; candles and wicks for lighting; combustible fuels, electricity and scented candles.
Class 5: Pharmaceutical and veterinary preparations; sanitary preparations for medical purposes; dietetic food and substances adapted for medical or veterinary use, food for babies; dietary supplements for humans and animals; plasters, materials for dressings; material for stopping teeth, dental wax; disinfectants; preparations for destroying vermin; fungicides, herbicides.
Class 6: Common metals and their alloys; metal building materials; transportable buildings of metal; materials of metal for railway tracks; non-electric cables and wires of common metal; ironmongery, small items of metal hardware; pipes and tubes of metal; safes; goods of common metal not included in other classes; ores; unwrought and partly wrought common metals; metallic windows and doors; metallic framed conservatories.
Class 7: Machines and machine tools; motors and engines (except for land vehicles); machine coupling and transmission components (except for land vehicles); agricultural implements other than hand-operated; incubators for eggs; automatic vending machines.
Class 8: Hand tools and hand operated implements; cutlery; side arms; razors; electric razors and hair cutters.
Class 9: Scientific, nautical, surveying, photographic, cinematographic, optical, weighing, measuring, signalling, checking (supervision), life-saving and teaching apparatus and instruments; apparatus and instruments for conducting, switching, transforming, accumulating, regulating or controlling electricity; apparatus for recording, transmission or reproduction of sound or images; magnetic data carriers, recording discs; compact discs, DVDs and other digital recording media; mechanisms for coin-operated apparatus; cash registers, calculating machines, data processing equipment, computers; computer software; fire-extinguishing apparatus.
Class 10: Surgical, medical, dental and veterinary apparatus and instruments, artificial limbs, eyes and teeth; orthopaedic articles; suture materials; sex aids; massage apparatus; supportive bandages; furniture adapted for medical use.
Class 11: Apparatus for lighting, heating, steam generating, cooking, refrigerating, drying, ventilating, water supply and sanitary purposes; air conditioning apparatus; electric kettles; gas and electric cookers; vehicle lights and vehicle air conditioning units.
Class 12: Vehicles; apparatus for locomotion by land, air or water; wheelchairs; motors and engines for land vehicles; vehicle body parts and transmissions.
Class 13: Firearms; ammunition and projectiles, explosives; fireworks.
Class 14: Precious metals and their alloys; jewellery, costume jewellery, precious stones; horological and chronometric instruments, clocks and watches.
Class 15: Musical instruments; stands and cases adapted for musical instruments.
Class 16: Paper, cardboard and goods made from these materials, not included in other classes; printed matter; bookbinding material; photographs; stationery; adhesives for stationery or household purposes; artists’ materials; paint brushes; typewriters and office requisites (except furniture); instructional and teaching material (except apparatus); plastic materials for packaging (not included in other classes); printers’ type; printing blocks.
Class 17: Rubber, gutta-percha, gum, asbestos, mica and goods made from these materials; plastics in extruded form for use in manufacture; semi-finished plastics materials for use in further manufacture; stopping and insulating materials; flexible non-metallic pipes.
Class 18: Leather and imitations of leather; animal skins, hides; trunks and travelling bags; handbags, rucksacks, purses; umbrellas, parasols and walking sticks; whips, harness and saddlery; clothing for animals.
Class 19: Non-metallic building materials; non-metallic rigid pipes for building; asphalt, pitch and bitumen; non-metallic transportable buildings; non-metallic monuments; non-metallic framed conservatories, doors and windows.
Class 20: Furniture, mirrors, picture frames; articles made of wood, cork, reed, cane, wicker, horn, bone, ivory, whalebone, shell, amber, mother-of-pearl, meerschaum or plastic which are not included in other classes; garden furniture; pillows and cushions.
Class 21: Household or kitchen utensils and containers; combs and sponges; brushes; brush-making materials; articles for cleaning purposes; steel wool; articles made of ceramics, glass, porcelain or earthenware which are not included in other classes; electric and non-electric toothbrushes.
Class 22: Ropes, string, nets, tents, awnings, tarpaulins, sails, sacks for transporting bulk materials; padding and stuffing materials which are not made of rubber or plastics; raw fibrous textile materials.
Class 23: Yarns and threads, for textile use.
Class 24: Textiles and textile goods; bed and table covers; travellers’ rugs, textiles for making articles of clothing; duvets; covers for pillows, cushions or duvets.
Class 25: Clothing, footwear, headgear.
Class 26: Lace and embroidery, ribbons and braid; buttons, hooks and eyes, pins and needles; artificial flowers.
Class 27: Carpets, rugs, mats and matting, linoleum and other materials for covering existing floors; wall hangings (non-textile); wallpaper.
Class 28: Games and playthings; playing cards; gymnastic and sporting articles; decorations for Christmas trees; childrens’ toy bicycles.
Class 29: Meat, fish, poultry and game; meat extracts; preserved, dried and cooked fruits and vegetables; jellies, jams, compotes; eggs, milk and milk products; edible oils and fats; prepared meals; soups and potato crisps.
Class 30: Coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, rice, tapioca, sago, artificial coffee; flour and preparations made from cereals, bread, pastry and confectionery, ices; honey, treacle; yeast, baking-powder; salt, mustard; vinegar, sauces (condiments); spices; ice; sandwiches; prepared meals; pizzas, pies and pasta dishes.
Class 31: Agricultural, horticultural and forestry products; live animals; fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, natural plants and flowers; foodstuffs for animals; malt; food and beverages for animals.
Class 32: Beers; mineral and aerated waters; non-alcoholic drinks; fruit drinks and fruit juices; syrups for making beverages; shandy, de-alcoholised drinks, non-alcoholic beers and wines.
Class 33: Alcoholic wines; spirits and liqueurs; alcopops; alcoholic cocktails.
Class 34: Tobacco; smokers’ articles; matches; lighters for smokers.
Class 35: Advertising; business management; business administration; office functions; electronic data storage; organisation, operation and supervision of loyalty and incentive schemes; advertising services provided via the Internet; production of television and radio advertisements; accountancy; auctioneering; trade fairs; opinion polling; data processing; provision of business information; retail services connected with the sale of goods.
Class 36: Insurance; financial services; real estate agency services; building society services; banking; stockbroking; financial services provided via the Internet; issuing of tokens of value in relation to bonus and loyalty schemes; provision of financial information.
Class 37: Building construction; repair; installation services; installation, maintenance and repair of computer hardware; painting and decorating; cleaning services.
Class 38: Telecommunications services; chat room services; portal services; e-mail services; providing user access to the Internet; radio and television broadcasting.
Class 39: Transport; packaging and storage of goods; travel arrangement; distribution of electricity; travel information; provision of car parking facilities.
Class 40: Treatment of materials; development, duplicating and printing of photographs; generation of electricity.
Class 41: Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities.
Class 42: Scientific and technological services and research and design relating thereto; industrial analysis and research services; design and development of computer hardware and software; computer programming; installation, maintenance and repair of computer software; computer consultancy services; design, drawing and commissioned writing for the compilation of websites; creating, maintaining and hosting the websites of others; design services.
Class 43: Services for providing food and drink; temporary accommodation; restaurant, bar and catering services; provision of holiday accommodation; booking and reservation services for restaurants and holiday accommodation; retirement home services; creche services.
Class 44: Medical services; veterinary services; hygienic and beauty care for human beings or animals; agriculture, horticulture and forestry services; dentistry services; medical analysis for the diagnosis and treatment of persons; pharmacy advice; garden design services.
Class 45: Legal services; conveyancing services; security services for the protection of property and individuals; social work services; consultancy services relating to health and safety; consultancy services relating to personal appearance; provision of personal tarot readings; dating services; funeral services and undertaking services; fire-fighting services; detective agency services.
Applicants may choose to register a mark in one or more classes at an extra cost. An application can only bear one class.