Nigeria: Introduction To Nigerian Legal System

Last Updated: 17 February 1999
Legal Practitioners, Trade Marks Patent and Industrial Design Attorneys


Listed Below are the legal requirements for the registration of Trade Marks, Patents and Industrial Designs in Nigeria.



Nigeria is located on the West Coast of Africa. The last figure issued by the Population Bureau puts an estimate of the population as 98.5 million. It is however widely believed that there are over 100,000,000(One hundred Million) people in Nigeria. The population growth is 1.6% (world average). Area: 923,768


Naira (N) and Kobo, 100K = N1.00 N86.00 = US $ 1.00 as at January 1999.

Official Language: ENGLISH

Date of Independence: October 1 1960

Nigeria is Africa's leading Oil producer, with Natural Gas increasingly becoming an important resource. Agriculture is important and there is a growing timber industry in the South of the Country with cattle farming predominant in the North. Manufacturing industries are expanding rapidly, Hydro- Electric power is being produced from the River Niger, particularly the Kanji Dams. The South West has the most fertile arable land and produces cocoa, rubber and timber. The Southeast is the main area for palm oil production. Minerals include Coal, Tin ore, and Columbite.



The inventor or any Assignee (be it an individual or a Corporation) may apply. Foreign Investors are treated the same way as Nationals. The inventor must be named in an application filed by an Assignee.


20 years from the date of filing Patent application provided it is renewed annually from the date of the application (i.e. 20 renewal fees payable). It would lapse if renewal fee were not paid within 6 months of the due date. No provision for restoration.


An inventor must be new. World-wide novelty is required. In addition the following are required:

  • 1.A petition or request for a Patent with the applicant's full name and address signed by the applicant or by an agent if given the authority to do so.
  • 2. A specification, including a claim in duplicate (must be in English or with certified English translation). It must sufficiently describe the invention to enable one skilled in the field of invention to which it relates to put it into effect.
  • 3. Plans and drawings, if any should be in duplicate, and on strong calendered paper of smooth surface of 13" X 8".
  • 4. A declaration signed by the true inventor requesting that he be mentioned as such in the Patent and given his name and address.
  • 5. If the application is made by an agent , a signed Power of Attorney (or "Authorisation of Agent") requiring no legalisation.
  • 6. An address for service in Nigeria if the applicant's address is outside Nigeria.
  • 7. Convention application - A certified copy of the basic application from which convention priority is claimed (together with a verified English translation where necessary) must be filled within 6 months of the filing date of the application or within such further time as the Registrar may on request allow.
  • 8. The prescribed fee.


The examination is as to form alone. After examination the Patent is granted by the issuance of the Patent Instrument.


A person's right in a Patent or Patent application is assignable.


An infringement of the right of a Patentee is actionable at the suit of the Patentee. Relief by way of damages, injunction, account or otherwise is available to the Patentee.

Compulsory Licences:

Possible after 4 years of the filing of the Patent application or three years after the grant whichever period last expires.



May be any person whether resident or not, it could be an individual or a Corporation. The applicant must make a claim Bona Fide to be Proprietor of the mark.

The Mark:

Includes a device, brand, heading, label, ticket, name signature, word, letter, numeral or any combination thereof, or a container for goods. Colours are acceptable but if a trademark is registered without limitation to colour, it is taken to be registered for all colours.

Registration in Part B.

Illustrative of marks which by and large for registration in Part B include surnames, fairly obscure geographical names, Dictionary words, suggestive or oblique descriptive of the nature of the goods or services for which registration is desired.

Service Marks.

There are currently no provisions for registration of Service marks.


Foreign applicants must send the following to the local agent:

  • 1. Name and address of the applicant;
  • 2. List of goods for which the applicant is sought;
  • 3. 15 bromide prints of the marks;
  • 4. Power of Attorney (or "Authorisation of Agent") signed by the applicant and in case of a body corporate any officer authorised to do so, designation of the signatory is required to be stated, legalisation is not necessary.


This is strictly as to registrability (distinctiveness) and availability. After acceptance, the mark must be advertised in the Trademark Journal for opposition, which is heard before the Registrar. Examination of the mark is generally completed within two (2) weeks of filing.


7 years from the date of filing the application, may be renewed thereafter for successive periods of 14 years.


Renewal application may be filed three (3) months before expiry date. There is a grace period of 30 days after the due date, which may be extended. This application is usually completed within 2-3 weeks receiving instructions including a signed Authorisation of Agent form, provided the file can be located at the Registry.


An infringement of the rights conferred on the Proprietor of a registered trademark is actionable at the Federal High Court at the suit of the Proprietor. (Relief granted is similar to the one available for Patents).


Licenses (Registered User) and Assignment are possible either before or after registration. There is no provision for compulsory Licensing.

Industrial Designs


May be the actual creator of the Design or an Assignee.


Is required.


Convention claim must be at the time of the filing of the application.


The following must accompany the application:

  • 1. A request for registration of the design;
  • 2. The applicant's full name and address, and if that address is outside Nigeria, an address for service in Nigeria.
  • 3. Four specimen of the design or photographic or graphic representations of the design with any printing block or other means of reproduction;
  • 4. An indication of the kind of product ( or where a classification has been prescribed, the class of product) for which the design will be used;
  • 5. If the application is made by an agent, a signed Power of Attorney is required. Legalisation or certification of the signature of the Power of Attorney is not required;
  • 6. The prescribed fee;
  • 7. Where appropriate, a declaration signed by the true creator requesting that the he be named as such in the Register and giving his name and address.
  • 8. Statement of novelty.


No examination. If the documents required to be filed are complete and in order, the Registrar is obliged to issue a certificate or registration.


An initial period of 5 years from the date of the application. It may be renewed for 2 further periods of five years each on payment of the prescribed renewal fees. There is a grace period of 6 months to pay renewal fee after the expiration of the renewal period.


Same as for Patent.


Any contract for the use of Trademarks, Patents, Industrial Designs made with a Nigerian Company by a foreign company under which royalty is payable in foreign currency must be registered with the Nigerian Office for Technology Acquisition & Promotion (NOTAP) within 6 months after the signing of the agreement. Otherwise, approval for the transfer of fees would not be granted by the Central Bank of Nigeria.


The National Agency for Food in Drug Administration & Control was established in 1992 with functions amongst other of regulating and controlling the importation, exportation, manufacture, advertisement, distribution sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices bottled water and chemicals. It is a requirement of the law that the above named products be registered with the Agency prior to importation, exportation, manufacture, advertisement, distribution sale in use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, bottled water and chemicals.

o. Kayode & Co.
Great Nigeria House (9th Floor)
47/57 Martins Street
P O Box 9484
Lagos, Nigeria
Telephone:234 1 2667962/234 1 2661804
Fax: 234 1 2668310
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