The position of the Registrar of Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry, Nigeria has for many years being occupied by a single Registrar, who doubles as both the Registrar of Trademarks and Patents and Designs registry. The Registrar oversees the different aspects of intellectual property in Nigeria except copyright, which is under the jurisdiction of Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC). However, following the exit of Chinyere Agbai, the former acting Registrar of Trademarks, Patents and Designs in March 2018. The administration of the registry is now supervised under the leadership of Yauri Shafiu Adamu, the new Registrar of Trademarks, while the registry of Patents and Designs is supervised by Stella Ezenduka as the Registrar. Both Registrars of Trademarks and Patents and Designs are in acting capacity.
The current situation has raised concerns as to the validity or otherwise of separate registrars existing in the registry hitherto manned by a single Registrar. It is our opinion that separating the office of the Patents and Designs from Trademarks is not in conflict with the provisions of the relevant Statutes. Section 1 (1) of the Trade Marks Act of 1965 provides that:
"there shall continue to be an officer known as the Registrar of Trade Marks who shall be appointed by the Federal Civil Service Commission and whose office shall be situated in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja." (Emphasis supplied)
The above section clearly limits the portfolio of the Registrar to trade marks only.
Under the Patents and Designs Act, Registrar is interpreted to mean "the Registrar of Patents and Designs" – section 32 of the Patents and Designs Act of 1971. Section 28 of the Act thereof also clearly provides that (1) "there shall be a Registrar of Patents and Designs, who shall be appointed by the Federal Civil Service Commission."
The foregoing provision also limits the portfolio of the Registrar to Patents and Designs.
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