The green future is dependent on the world's ability to create sustainable alternatives to our existing pollutive way of life. Globally, innovation/ technology remains a key driving force in the quest to transit to a green future.
Technological innovation and intellectual property (IP) are intertwined and cannot be discussed in isolation. Intellectual property rights are the heart and soul of innovation. For instance, in the unending conversation on the effect of climate change, technology has been in the forefront of providing succor, with patent playing a key role.
The Green future & IP: Relevance of Intellectual Property to the green future transition
In recent times, innovation towards a green earth has taken a promising trajectory thereby increasing the need for patent registration. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, between 2006 and 2011, the annual growth rate of patent filings for key mitigation technologies was 24% compared to a global average of just 6% across all technology sectors. Regardless of these statistics, these mitigating technologies will only be patentable where they comply with the conditions
for registration i.e newness/ novelty, results from inventive activity and is capable of industrial application. Thus, for a period of twenty years from the date the patent was filed, unauthorized third parties are precluded from using or selling the product or stocking the product for the purpose of sale or use. We have identified some benefits that innovation will derive from IP protection:
- Apart from the rights to the invention, the aesthetics and the word or logo used to associate the invention with the inventor can also enjoy design and trade mark protection provided that they meet the registration requirements;
- Once the registration requirements are fulfilled, IP recognizes the rights of the inventor or creator in terms of the effort, skill and knowledge expended on the invention;
- It opens the door for the inventor/creator to enjoy the commercial benefits derivable from their invention;
- It spurs others to further develop on the inventions;
- Some inventions can be used to obtain investment to further attain the green dream.
Transfer of Technology
As technology continues to evolve globally and the world works towards a green future, transfer of technology is inevitable. This may arise between developed countries or developed and developing countries. For developing countries, IP protection & enforcement measures may pose a challenge to the transfer
of technological know-how and this may affect the desired transition to the green future.
In Nigeria, all contracts or agreements for the transfer of foreign technology to Nigerian parties must be registered with the National Office for Technological Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP); according to the NOTAP Act, no payment shall be made in Nigeria to the credit of the transferring party outside Nigeria unless a certificate of registration and a copy of the contract certified by the NOTAP is presented by the parties.
Some of the arrangements recognized by NOTAP are Technological contracts, Consultancy & Technical Know-How contracts, Software licensing contracts, Research and Development contracts, Trade Mark License etc. For Technology contracts, NOTAP requires that the contract include a provision for the recipient enterprise in Nigeria to acquire explicit rights for the use and exploitation of the technology in question, and the period covering these rights should be clearly specified in the contract.
The Nigerian Patents and Design Act also recognizes the right of a patent owner to register a "licences of right" in respect of a patent. However, for this to apply, the invention must be registered in Nigeria.
Dispute Resolution & Conclusion
Owing to the sensitivity of technology information and the fact that court records are in the public domain, parties can adopt alternative dispute mechanisms ("ADR") as against the traditional litigation. An example of such ADR is arbitration. Whilst we recognize the cost implication of this option, parties are however assured of the confidentiality of all information disclosed.
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.