1.1 The importance of intellectual property protection

Intellectual property protection has advanced rapidly in Nigeria in recent years due to a much greater national awareness of these rights. This awareness is created by the ever increasing menace of piracy, shadowing and counterfeiting and the consequent need to protect the rights and interests of manufacturers, traders, authors, artists etc.

Intellectual property rights represent an increasingly vital part of business assets. Strong intellectual property laws encourage the transfer of technology and innovative products thus intellectual property protection is vital to the emerging economy of Nigeria.

1.2 What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property is the collective name given to a bundle of rights which protect various aspects of human skill and effort. Intellectual property rights as their name suggests are a form of property which may be bought and sold. These rights are the asset which underlies the products or services provided by the business. In many cases, the intellectual property rights provide a monopoly for their owner in that they can be used to prevent others from copying the product or the idea underlying it.

The application of intellectual property laws differs from country to country although there are a number of international treaties and conventions which seek to simplify registration procedures and achieve reciprocal protection so that the subject matter of a right existing in one country will be protected by a similar right existing in another country.

1.3 Intellectual property rights in Nigeria

The most important types of intellectual property rights are the following:-

(a) Trade Marks - which may be registered or unregistered. Such marks protect the reputation of a business;

(b) Patents - a right which protects inventions;

(c) Industrial Designs - a right which protects the appearance of articles which design is intended to be used as a model or pattern to be multiplied by industrial process;

(d) Copyright - the exclusive right to reproduce works such as music, books, software and allied rights such as performance and rental rights.

Trade marks, patents and industrial designs are registered and administered by the Registrar of Trade Marks and the Registrar of Patents and Industrial Designs respectively. Both Registries are situated in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja under the umbrella of the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Tourism. Copyright protection accrues automatically and is administered by the Nigerian Copyright Council.


Akinjide & Co. is a leading corporate law practice based in Lagos, Nigeria, with branch offices in Ikeja and Ibadan.

This guide on intellectual property in Nigeria has been produced by the intellectual property group of Akinjide & Co. and is intended to provide general guidance and information only. It is not a major work of reference and specific questions and enquiries should be referred to:

Stephen Kola - Balogun
Akinjide & Co.
10th Floor, Western House
8/10 Broad Street,
Lagos - Nigeria.
Tel:  234   1 263 5315
Fax: 234   1 264 5525.
E-mail:  Click Contact Link