4.1 What are industrial designs?
Any combination of lines or colours or both, and any three dimensional form, whether or not associated with colours is an industrial design if it is intended by the creator to be used as a model or pattern to be multiplied by an industrial process and it is not intended solely to obtain a technical result.
An industrial design is registrable if:
(a) It is new and
(b) It is not contrary to public order and morality.
Designs which are to be applied to any of the following articles are non-registrable namely:
(a) Works of sculpture, other than casts or models used or intended to be used as models or patterns to be multiplied by any industrial process;
(b) Wall plaques or medals;
(c) Printed matter primarily of a literally or artistic character including books, jackets, calendars, certificates, coupons, dressmaking patterns, greeting cards, leaflets, plans, maps, post-cards, stamps, trade advertisements, trade forms etc.
4.2 Procedure for registration
The right to register an industrial design is vested in the statutory creator, i.e. the person, whether or not the true creator who is the first to file or validly claim a foreign priority for an application for registration of the design.
An application for registration must contain:
(a) a request for registration of the design;
(b) the applicant's full name and address and if the address is outside Nigeria, an address for service in Nigeria;
(c) a specimen of the design or a photographic or graphic representation of the design with the printing block for reproduction;
(d) an indication of the kind of product for which the design will be used.
Furthermore, the application should be accompanied by:-
(i) the prescribed fee;
(ii) where appropriate, a declaration signed by the true creator requesting that he be named as such in the Register and
(iii) where the application is made by an agent, a signed power of attorney.
A single application may relate to any number of industrial designs not exceeding fifty, as long as the products to which the designs relate are of the same kind or class.
4.3. Convention applications
Where an applicant wishes to avail himself of foreign priority in respect of an earlier application made in a foreign convention country he must apply not later than 6 months from the date of the foreign application and append to this application a written declaration showing:-
(i) the date and number of the earlier application;
(ii) the country in which the earlier application was made;
(iii) that the application in the said country is the first application in a convention country in that respect; and
(iv) the name of the person who made the earlier application.
The applicant should not more than three months after making the convention application, furnish the Registrar with a copy of the earlier application certified correct by the appropriate intellectual properly authority in the foreign convention country.
4.4 Examination of the application
The Registrar will examine the application to ensure that it is not against public order and morality and that both the contents of the application form and the prescribed fee paid are correct. He is not required to inquire into the newness of the design. If upon examination the Registrar raises any objection in writing as to the registration of the design, the applicant may within one month after receiving the Registrar's objection apply for a hearing otherwise he will be deemed to have withdrawn his application. Upon registration the applicant is issued a registration certificate.
4.5 Duration and renewal
Registration of an industrial design is effective for an initial period of 5 years from the date of the application for registration. It is renewable on payment of the prescribed fee for two consecutive periods of 5 years. A period of grace of 6 months after the beginning of the renewal period is allowed for the payment of the renewal fee.
Registered designs are enforced by taking infringement proceedings in the Federal High Court claiming injunctive relief, damages and costs. As with patents it is usual for defendants to contest the validity of the registration which may as a result be lost.
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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:
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