In Nigeria, where at least six out of ten persons own a business or a product, the importance of registering a trademark cannot be overstated. A trademark is simply a symbol, word, or words legally registered or established by use as representing a business or product.
A trademark is the identity of a business or product, hence why it is important to register it. It protects the identity of the business or product from use by other businesses or persons.
Trademarks in Nigeria are registrable under the Trademarks Act by the Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry, Commercial Law Department of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment with an exclusive license to use for a period.
How to Register a Trademark
The next question to be asked would be how one can register a trademark in Nigeria. Below are the simple steps to be followed in registering a trademark in Nigeria:
Who Does Trademark Registration in Nigeria?
It is noteworthy that not all persons can commence the process of trademarks registration. For such person to assist in the registration, he must be an accredited agent/attorney with the Registry.
Like the procedure for company registrations under the Corporate Affairs Commission, an applicant for a trademark must, through his attorney/agent, conduct an availability search for the proposed trademark. This is necessary to ensure that the proposed mark is still open for registration and has not already been registered by another person.
2. Formal Application and Examination
After a search is conducted and the proposed mark is cleared as available and open for registration, the attorney/agent may file the application through the procedure as provided on the registration portal. It is noteworthy that before an attorney can successfully complete the formal application, he must upload a power of attorney, which is simply a document signed by the applicant, authorising to the agent to act on his behalf with regards to the application.
The attorney/agent must also indicate the class under which the mark is to be registered. There are currently 45 classes under which a trademark in Nigeria can be registered. The choice of class is generally determined by the proposed use/ service for which the mark would be used.
Once all relevant documents are uploaded, all relevant information filled and payment is made, the Registrar issues an Acknowledgement Form confirming the receipt of the application by the Registry and a temporary number is allocated to the trademark, pending registration and allocation of a permanent registration number.
After the application is submitted, the registrar carries out an examination to determine if the mark is registrable as allowed under the Trademarks Act, whether the mark is distinctive, deceptive, and scandalous or in any way disallowed. Where the Registrar is satisfied that the mark can be registered, an Acceptance form is issued.
3. Publication and Opposition
Following the issuance of an acceptance form, the accepted mark is published in the Trademarks Journal. This publication is done to notify the public of the mark and members of the public are allowed to oppose the registration. Note however that the opposition period is two months and after this period, persons are precluded from opposing to the registration.
Where there are no oppositions to the registration or all oppositions have been settled in favour of the applicant, a certificate of registration is issued. This certificate signifies proper registration and completion of all processes.
As previously stated, registration of a trademark is the only legal means of precluding another from using a mark which uniquely identifies a business or product in Nigeria and confers on the holder, exclusive use within Nigeria for an initial period of 7 years, subject to renewal.
What the next step?
If you would like to process your trademark registration in Nigeria, OAL as an accredited agent can assist you with the service. Please contact us to learn more.
Ginika is an Associate and a member of the firm’s Alternative Dispute Resolution, Maritime and Sports, Entertainment and Technology Practice groups. She is a smart, result-driven and efficient lawyer with professionalism that makes her a great asset to any team.