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Enforcement of IPRs in Nigeria


Enforcement of IPRs
Over the years, Nigeria has become a target destination and transit route for counterfeit and pirated goods. Foreign and local traders flood the market with cheap substandard fakes, while local manufacturers illegally imitate the products of established brands. Reason for the wide spread of proliferation include informal structure of the economy, corruption, outdated legislation, weak policies and enforcement mechanisms, and the lack of awareness on the dangers of consuming substandard and counterfeit products.
Packaged foods, pharmaceuticals, footwear, clothing most often face counterfeiting and piracy in Nigeria.
Traditionally, the various aspects of Intellectual Property (IP) in Nigeria include:
  • Copyright - governed by the Copyright Act Cap. C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004;
  • Industrial Designs & Patents - governed by the Patents and Designs Act Cap. P2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004; and
  • Trademarks - governed by the Trademarks Act Cap T13 (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004).
Patents, copyright, and trademarks are the different types of IPRs protected by IPR enforcement in Nigeria.
It is necessary to register a trademark to bring forth an action of infringement while enforcing the IPR in question. Also, although not mandatory, the Federal High Court promotes mediation or settlement procedure prior to the initiation of a trial. Therefore, it has the power to allow a 30-day period to encourage its full resolution of disputes.
Foreign trademarks are not statutorily enforceable in Nigeria, except as unregistered marks. Foreign industrial design registrations are not enforceable in Nigeria.
If the owner of a mark is aware of a likely infringement on his or her mark, he or she can apply to the court for a grant of search and seize orders. It gives the owner the right to raid the premises of the infringer without notice to seize all the infringing goods found. The owner can collaborate with law enforcement agencies, like NAFDAC or Nigerian Customs.
The owner can also enforce his or her rights by writing a cease and desist letter to the infringer.
The owner can also enforce his or her rights by writing a cease and desist letter to the infringer.
The owner can also enforce his or her trademark by alerting the general public and consumers through newspaper and various media forums, on who the real owners of the trademark are and how to recognize their genuine products.
No, the acts relating to the right to do not expressly specify a time limit for IP infringement.
A) Government Authorities - Yes
B) Police Officials - Yes
C) Judiciary - Yes
D) Customs - Yes
A) Injunctions - Yes
B) Monetary Compensation - Yes
C) Raids - Yes
D) Seizures - Yes
E) Destruction - Yes
Other civil remedies in Nigeria include the following:
  • nfringement articles to the plaintiff.
A) Responsible Authority - The federal High Court of Nigeria, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court.
B) Imprisonment Term - Trademarks: 06 months to 02 years; and Copyright: 06 months to 05 years
C) Monetary Fine - Trademarks: 50,000 Naira; and Copyright: N100, 000 to 500, 000
Other criminal remedies available in Nigeria include the following:
  • Delivery up: It is an order against the defendant to hand over all infringement articles to the plaintiff; and
  • Cost of action and solicitors fee.
ADR is not common in settling trademark cases in Nigeria. Relevant provisions have been drafted to introduce a hybrid mediation process throughout the "case-management-conference" process under the Federal High Court rules.
The Standard Organization of Nigeria may be utilized. A petition may be sent to the Director of SOP to protest for the involvement of issuing the regards to the prevention of importation of goods into the ports and in the country.
The remedies available under border control measures (customs) in Nigeria include the following:
  • Seizure and destruction of goods
  • Imposition of fine
Court Proceedings
Many copyright owners (like music artists and filmmakers) lack sufficient knowledge of the legal framework for the protection of IPRs. They do not understand or properly scrutinize the contracts they sign. Additionally, many copyright owners engage the services of legal counsels, who are generalists and inexperienced in the management of IP rights issues; so these lawyers fail in their duties to give the right direction to their clients. In some cases, the copyright owners do not reap the full benefits of their works in cases of infringement because they settle out of court on small amounts due to the fear of losing to the offenders who are sometimes more popular and/or wealthy artists. Many other copyright owners do not follow the cause of law given the constraints and the cost of bringing the defaulters to law.
The regulatory authorities are generally considered passive in the protection and enforcement of IP rights and laws. Additionally, the regulatory framework is largely perceived as weak and inefficient to the extent that the public is unaware of the ways it contributes to the infringement of IP rights.