Trademark is a unique sign for which an entity, product or service can be known and identified in the course of trade and by members of the public. A trademark is a tangible asset which can be quantified in monetary terms by its Owner when passing it off to another individual or entity. The Owner is entitled to compensation when his trademark is used by another person without his authorization.

For a trademark to be registered, it must contain at least the name of the company, individual or firm represented in a unique form; or the signature of the applicant for the registration or some predecessor in his business; or an invented word or invented words; or word or words having no direct reference to the character or quality of the goods or services; or any distinctive mark.  

Registration of a trademark gives the Owner exclusive right to the trademark in respect of particular goods or classes of goods to which it was registered. Such a right is deemed to be infringed by any other person who uses the mark or any other mark which is identical to the mark which is likely to deceive or confuse the public in the course of trade in relation to any goods in respect of which the mark was registered.

Consequently, it is only the Owner of a registered trademark that can institute proceedings to restrain or to recover damages for infringement of his trademark. Where the Owner of a foreign product intends to import it to the Nigerian market or a foreign business intends to carry on business in Nigeria, it is necessary for the trademark of the product or business to be registered in Nigeria to enable the Owner benefit from the exclusive right over the trademark in Nigeria.  

A trademark is assignable and transmissible either in connection with the goodwill of a business or not. The beneficiary of a trademark by assignment or transmission shall apply to the Registrar of trademarks to register his title and the Registrar shall on receipt of proof of title cause the particulars of the assignment or transmission to be entered in the Register.

A person whose trademark is registered at a convention country may apply through his legal representative or assignee within 6 months for the mark to be registered in Nigeria in priority to other applicant. The registration of the mark shall be the same date as the application in the convention country. Nevertheless, the Owner of the trademark can only recover damages for infringement after the actual date of registration in Nigeria. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.