The idea behind the concept of Trademark is for the protection of the ideas, inventions, designs and trade secrets of Investors and by so doing, ensure that their rights are not infringed upon by Competitors.
Once a Trademark is registered, it enables the owner to take legal actions against anyone who exploits benefits associated with the use of the registered mark without the consent or the authorization of the owner of the mark.
The description of a registrable “MARK” given by the Trademarks Act, CAP T13, and Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (“TMA”) denotes that:
For a Mark to be considered registrable, the following obligation and conditions must be contained therein:
- The name of a company, individual, or firm must be represented in a unique way
- 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 e.g. OMO which is a unique mark for a brand of detergent , and not being according to its ordinary signification a geographical name or surname; any other distinctive mark;
Other indispensable obligation that is the basis of disqualification includes
- That the mark is deceptive or scandalous, contrary to law or morality.
- that the mark contains a word which is commonly used and accepted name of any single chemical element or single chemical compound, as distinguished from a mixture in respect of a chemical substance or preparation
- that the mark contains some prohibited words and/symbols such as the names of chemical substances, Coat of Arms, the words “patent”, “patented”, “registered”, “registered design”, “copyright”, or words to the like effect, and so on.
The above mentioned grounds for objection to the registration of a Mark can be surmounted by making an oral or written application to the Registrar for waiver or the presenter of the Mark may do the needful and make the necessary adjustments to merit an approval and acceptance.
In Nigeria, the notion of Trademark is superintended by the Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry, Commercial Law Department of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. An Application is made to the Registrar of Trademarks through his office stated above and will be submitted to the Head office of the Ministry at Block D, Old secretariat , Area 1, Garki, Abuja or visit: (http://www.iponigeria.com/#/Contact
The following are indispensible for the processing of a trademark application in Nigeria:
- Specific details of the applicant/owner which includes the Name, Contact and Nationality.
- A softcopy of the Design, device, logo, word(s) and prototype in a jpeg format (i.e. 120px x100px, 1200dpi) of goods and services for which the trademark is to be registered.
- A printed copy or any form of representation of the projected trademark
- Power of Attorney signed by the applicant authorizing the agent to act on his behalf. In the case of a corporate entity, the authorization have to be executed by the Directors or Company secretary and any person authorized by the officers of the company. The document is not expected to be notarized.
- Company seal or individual signature of the applicant
PROCESS AND PROCEDURE (A STEP BY STEP GUIDE)
They are basically FOUR steps which an applicant must follow in order to complete the process of trademark registration in Nigeria.
STEP 1: AVAILABILITY OF MARK SEARCH.
Firstly, a search has to be conducted on the mark within a specific class (es) of trademark. There are 45 classes (For a comprehensive list of all 45 Classes, visit: https://ibechidoassociates.com/a-step-by-step-guide-on-the-requirements-procedure-and-classes-of-trademark-registration-in-nigeria/) and an applicant must study the classes so that the search will be conducted within the appropriate class or those closely aligned to it.
STEP 2: TRADEMARK APPLICATION FILING
Upon a successful online or offline application, the TM registry portal generates an OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT LETTER which bears the application number and Filing date.
The duty to conduct a preliminary search to determine if the mark is distinct or dissimilar from prior filed and registered marks within the Class (es) the application is made is the Trademark Registry. This further search is the reason why the First stage Availability of Mark Search is optional. Once the Mark is considered to be registrable, the Registrar will issue an ACCEPTANCE LETTER.
STEP 3: PUBLICATION IN TRADEMARK JOURNAL
Once the application is published in the journal, a statutory period of two months must elapse from the date of the publication within which opposition to the mark can be filed against the registration of the trademark.
STEP 4: CERTIFICATION
After the Publication barrier is successfully tackled by a trademark applicant, as a result of no opposition to the application as published or that an opposition was resolved in favour of the applicant, a formal application will to be made to the Registrar by the Attorney for the issuance of a Trademark Certificate of Registration.
The Validity period of a trademark certificate is 7years and is renewable indefinitely for a fourteen (14) years
CLASSES OF TRADEMARKS IN NIGERIA
They are 45 different classes of Trademark in Nigeria and Studying and Understanding the Classes is key to ensuring that an application for Trademark is not declined due to failure to properly place an application on the appropriate designated Class. (For a comprehensive list of all 45 Classes, visit : https://ibechidoassociates.com/a-step-by-step-guide-on-the-requirements-procedure-and-classes-of-trademark-registration-in-nigeria/
Okpi, Ibe Chinedu is the Principal Partner in the Law Firm of Ibe, Chido and Associates (www.ibechidoassociates.com ) with extensive knowledge in Corporate and Commercial Law Practice. He can be contacted via phone: 07069279374 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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