HOW TO REGISTER A TRADEMARK IN NIGERIA
A trademark is a symbol or a sign which differentiates the goods and services of one business from another one. You can register your trademark – a name, logo, slogan, domain name, shape, colour or sound with the Commercial Law department, Ministry of Trade and Investment in Nigeria. This can legally protect your trademark from use by a competitor. The trademark must be distinctive for the goods and services that you provide, not be deceptive, illegal or immoral and not be similar to existing trademarks.
A trademark provides protection to the owner of the mark by ensuring the exclusive right to use it to identify goods or services, or to authorize another to use it in return for payment. The period of protection varies, but a trademark can be renewed indefinitely beyond the time limit on payment of additional fees. Trademark protection is enforced by the courts, which in most systems have the authority to block trademark infringement.
In a larger sense, trademarks promote initiative and enterprise worldwide by rewarding the owners of trademarks with recognition and financial profit. Trademark protection also hinders the efforts of unfair competitors, such as counterfeiters, to use similar distinctive signs to market inferior or different products or services. The system enables people with skill and enterprise to produce and market goods and services in the fairest possible conditions, thereby facilitating international trade.
REQUIREMENTS FOR FILING NIGERIAN TRADE MARK APPLICATIONS
The full name(s), nationality and physical address of the applicant (to be advised to local Agent/Attorney).
The trademark Information
The Representation must be clear and distinct. If to be filed online, soft copies are to be provided in jpeg format at a minimum of 1200 dpi.
A representation is preferred to have the following dimensions: 120px by 100px (length by breath)
The full range of goods covered or proposed to be covered by the trade mark. Nigeria presently follows the International Classification of Goods. A separate application is filed for each classification of goods for which the trade mark is to be registered.
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Power of Attorney/Authorization of Agent
A Power of Attorney simply signed, with full particulars of name(s), address (es) and nationality of the applicant(s). Full name(s) and capacity of the signatory when applicant is a firm/company.
PROCEDURE FOR REGISTRATION OF TRADE MARKS
The usual market practice is to instruct a local Attorney/Agent in Nigeria, who would file and process applications at the Nigerian Registry of Trade Marks, Patents, Designs and Copyright. A Power of Attorney/Authorization of Agent Form would be completed in favor of such local Agent, as the enabling instrument to act for the principal/ Applicant. Thereafter, all official documents and forms would be submitted by the local Agent/Attorney. Until replaced or substituted by another local Agent, the local Agent remains responsible for processing registrations of the marks, defending Oppositions (if any), provides address for local service of documents, and maintains renewals of the marks. A local Agent/Attorney may be replaced or substituted by executing another Power of Attorney/Authorization of Agent Form in favor of the succeeding Agent. NO formal notices are necessary and the Agent with the more recent Authorization is deemed to be the one with powers to act thenceforth.
After filing the application for trade mark registration, the Registrar issues an official acknowledgement reflecting the official number and filing date of the application. A preliminary search is conducted as to distinctiveness from existing and pending registrations. The Registrar examines the application for registrability taking into consideration possible conflicts with prior registered or pending marks and or inherent registrability of the mark. If the Registrar finds the trademark acceptable for registration, the applicant will be furnished with a letter/notice of acceptance.
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Every trade mark application must be advertised in the Nigerian Trademark Journal, and is open to opposition for a period of two (2) months from the date of advertisement.
If no objections are received within the specified period or no objections are sustained, 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 (i.e. date of filing acknowledgement).
Nigerian trade mark registrations have an initial validity of seven (7) years, and are thereafter indefinitely renewable for periods of fourteen (14) years. An application for renewal should be made not less than three (3) months from the due date.
A trademark may be registered either plainly (black and white) or in colour. However, where a trademark is registered in colour, the protection afforded the Mark is limited to the colour(s) registered. On the other hand, a plain (viz. black and white) registration affords protection to all colours of presentation of the trade mark.
Occasionally, the Registrar may request that for distinctiveness and acceptability for registration, word marks that are Common English words be registered in combination with devices or logos.
ELECTRONIC FILING IN NIGERIA
Trademarks can now be filed in Nigeria electronically through Local IP Agents. The Electronic filing was introduced to reduce the Hassles that come with Manual Processing of Applications.
The Electronic Filing Method is Convenient as you can file from the comfort of your location. Applicants will automatically get their Electronic acknowledgement notice on the same day of payment. Payments can now be made via Quickteller.com using Debit cards or at any Skye Bank Plc. in Nigeria. Applicants however must obtain Pre-generated Invoices obtainable through a Platform created for Local Agents in Nigeria.
One of the Benefits of Electronic filing is the Check Status module. You can track your applications online using your online application ID provided on your Acknowledgment letter.
Electronic Filing is encouraged as it is in line with Best practices around the world
SOURCE: Commercial Law Department, Federal Ministry Of Industry, Trade And Investmenthttp://www.iponigeria.com/#/Trademark