Processing for registering a Trademark in Nigeria
Why Register a Trademark in Nigeria?
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.
Once registered, it enables the trademark owner to amongst other things- take legal action against anyone who uses the registered mark without permission, sell and/or license the registered trademark (so in a sense it becomes an asset), and allows the owner to legally put the ® symbol next to the brand – to show ownership and warn others against using it.
In Nigeria, the legislation, which governs the registration of trademarks, is the Trade Marks Act (and the Trade Mark Regulations made pursuant to it). The government agency in Nigeria that is in charge of the registration of trademarks is the Trademarks, Patents And Designs Registry, Commercial Law Department, Federal Ministry Of Industry, Trade And Investment. Applications are made to the Registrar of Trade Marks.
This Department is charged with the duty of dealing with applications for the registration of trademarks, and other connected matters.
Nigeria is a party to the Nice Agreement and under this agreement, Trademarks are classified under 45 classes. Therefore, a trademark must be registered under the most relevant class.
Who can process a registration?
Under Nigerian law, only accredited individuals/companies can register trademarks. So if you are interested in registering your trademark you will need to hire the services of accredited agents for this process.
What is eligible for registration?
- Device, brand, heading, label, ticket, name, signature, word, letter, numeral, or any combination thereof;
For it to be eligible for registration in Nigeria it must contain or consist of at least one of the following essential particulars –
- the name of a company, individual, or firm, represented in a special or particular manner;
- the signature of the applicant for registration or some predecessor in his business;
- an invented word or invented words;
- a word or words having no direct reference to the character or quality of the goods, and not being according to its ordinary signification a geographical name or a surname;
- any other distinctive mark
Requirements for Trademark registration in Nigeria
- Applicant’s details
- Trademark Information
- The full range of goods covered or proposed to be covered by the trademark.
- Power of Attorney/Authorization of Agent
Do you need to register a Trademark in Nigeria?
In order to have exclusive use of your trademark, it is imperative that you register it. Unlike with copyright, protection does not vest automatically in the owner. Not registering a trademark would mean that you do not have exclusive right to use it. If someone were to use the same mark as you, the only recourse you would potentially have would be an action for the tort of passing off. So, yes you should register your trademark.
The Trademark registration process can be broken into 3 general stages:
- Availability Search – You conduct a search to determine whether there are registered marks that are similar to your proposed mark. The outcome of the search will help you determine whether the proposed mark may be registered or not.
- Trademark Application – If there is no similar mark, you may apply for registration. If the application is deemed registrable, the registry issues a Letter of Acceptance that serves as an approval in principle. After the acceptance has been issued, the mark is advertised in the Trademarks journal published by the Trademarks Office.
- Application for Certificate – Once the proposed mark has been advertised, an interested party may oppose the registration of the mark within 2 months of the advertised journal. If the mark is not opposed within 2 months, you may then apply to the Registrar for a Trademark Certificate.
- Issuance of Certificate – If there are no objections received, the Registrar will issue the applicant with a certificate of registration. When issued, the Registration Certificate will reflect the date of initial filing as date of registration.
A trademark is valid in Nigeria for an initial period of 7 years, and then for further renewable 14-year periods. An application for renewal should be made not less than three (3) months from the due date.
A trademark in Nigeria may be registered either plainly (black and white) or in colour. However, where a trademark is registered in colour, the protection afforded is limited to the colour(s) registered. On the other hand, a plain (black and white) registration affords protection to all colours of presentation of the trademark.
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We hope you have found this information helpful. Please note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.