NIGERIA IP GUIDEWest Africa

Intellectual Property Nigeria
Nigeria is an independent republic on the west coast of Africa, on the Gulf of Guinea. It is bordered by Benin to the west, Niger to the north, Cameroon to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south.

Area: 923 768 km2

Population: 185,989,640

Capital: Abuja

Currency: Naira

GDP:$ 484.895 billion (2016)

Trade Marks

There have been other consolidated Acts drafted since the 1967 Act, in 1990 and in 2004, but no subsequent draft Act has been published and the 1967 Act, therefore, remains in force.

Nigeria is a member of the Paris Convention and the WTO/TRIPS.

The Act provides for the protection of trade marks in respect of goods, as well as for certification marks. The registration of a trade mark gives to the proprietor the exclusive right to the use of the mark in respect of the relevant goods. Although not initially protected, the protection was extended (in 2007) to cover all services in addition to goods.

Provision is made for registration in Part A of the register if the mark contains or consists of a distinctive feature and is inherently adapted to distinguish or has become adapted to distinguish through use. To be registrable in Part B of the register, the mark must be capable of becoming distinctive.

Patents

Nigeria is a member of the Paris Convention, the PCT, the Patent Law Treaty, and the WTO/TRIPS.

Patent protection is available via a national filing. Although it is a member of PCT, Nigeria has not amended its laws to implement the PCT. Accordingly, it is not certain whether valid patent protection can be obtained via a PCT national phase application in Nigeria. However, in practice PCT national phase applications are being accepted and processed through to grant by the Nigerian Patent Office.

Foreign applicants must be represented by a local agent.

Designs

Nigeria is a member of the Paris Convention and the WTO/TRIPS.

The registration of a novel design gives to the owner the right to preclude all others from using the design in order to derive a commercial benefit. Design protection is available by way of a national filing.

Copyright

Nigeria is a member of the Berne Convention, the Rome Convention, and the WTO/TRIPS.

The Act provides for the following works to be eligible for copyright protection:

  • literary works
  • musical works
  • artistic works
  • cinematograph films
  • sound recordings

Literary works are further defined to include:

  • novels, stories, poetic works
  • plays, stage directions, film scenarios, broadcasting scripts
  • choreographic works
  • computer programs
  • textbooks, treatises, essays, articles
  • encyclopaedias, dictionaries, directories
  • letters, reports, memoranda
  • lectures, addresses and sermons
  • law reports, excluding decisions of courts
  • written tables and compilations of data.

Artistic works are further defined to include:

  • paintings, drawings, etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, engravings, prints
  • maps, plans, diagrams
  • works of sculpture
  • photographs
  • works of architecture
  • works of artistic craftsmanship.

Plant Breeders' Rights

Currently, no legislative provision for plant breeders’ rights or other sui generis protection for plants is available in Nigeria.

Company Law

Business vehicles

There are five primary forms of companies commonly used by foreign investors:

  • Public companies limited by shares
  • Public unlimited companies
  • Private companies limited by shares
  • Private unlimited companies
  • Guarantee (not for profit) companies

The minimum number of shareholders for a private company limited by shares is two, while the maximum number of shareholders is 50. In order for a foreign entity to trade in Nigeria it is mandatory that such entity incorporate a company. This is done at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) situated in the country’s capital Nairobi, and is evidenced by a CAC certificate upon the completion of the process. Unlimited liability companies are formed for certain professions which are not permitted to have limited liability.

Competition Law

Nigeria currently has no national competition law or policy in place. However, in certain instances specific sector or industry legislation makes provision for competition related aspects.

Consumer Protection

There are various piecemeal legislative provisions in Nigeria which have both a direct and indirect impact on consumer protection. In addition to such legislative provisions there is also the Consumer Protection Council Act, 1992 (CPCA) which is specifically aimed at the enforcement of consumer rights by providing consumers with the appropriate avenues to seek redress.

Data Protection

In 2010, the Cyber Security and Information Protection Agency Bill was tabled in Parliament. In terms of which a cyber-security and information protection agency will be established, which will be charged with protecting computer systems and networks, and liaise with the relevant law enforcement agency for the enforcement of cybercrimes laws and related matters. However, to date, no substantial progress has been made in this regard.

Dispute Resolution

Nigeria is a Federation of 36 states, each with its own House of Assembly and laws. The highest court is the Supreme Court of Nigeria which sits above the Court of Appeal; both of these courts have Federal jurisdiction. The Federal High Courts and the High Courts of States have concurrent jurisdiction, and the Sharia Court of Appeals and Customary Court of Appeals hear appeals from the lowest courts which are known as Customary, Area and Sharia Courts. The Magistrate’s and District Courts hear smaller matters.

Employment Law

Governing Legislation

  • Labour Act.
  • National Minimum Wage Amendment Act, 2000.
  • Trade Union Amendment Act, 2005.

Particulars of employment

A contract of employment must be given within 3 months of commencement.

Exchange Control

There are certain exchange control regulations in Nigeria. A foreign investor may invest in any enterprise or securities with foreign currency or capital imported into Nigeria through an authorised dealer (a licensed bank).

An investor will be issued with a Certificate of Capital Importation (CCI) by the authorised dealer through which the capital is imported into Nigeria.

Tax Law

Resident companies are taxed on their worldwide income. Non-resident companies are taxed on profits derived from Nigeria, to the extent that profits are not attributable to operations outside of Nigeria.

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