Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the human mind. Different rights make up Intellectual Property rights they include Patents, Copyright and Neighboring Rights, Trademarks, Industrial Designs, and Trade Secrets, etc. In Nigeria 3 main laws governs the protection and administration of Intellectual Property, they include the Copyright Act, the Patents and Designs Act, and the Trade Marks Act.


Copyright is the exclusive rights granted to the creator of an original work to reproduce, modify, to distribute, and perform his work. These exclusive rights are not absolute but are subject to certain limitations.

Copyright is governed by the Copyright Act, while the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) is responsible for the protection of Copyright.

Works eligible for Copyright protection includes; Literary works, Musical works, Artistic works, Cinematograph Films, Sound recordings, and Broadcasts

For a work to be entitled to Copyright protection it must be sufficiently Original and in a fixed medium of expression. Registration is not a protection prerequisite, as it exists automatically upon creation of an original work. However, the NCC has designed a voluntary registration scheme to enable authors to notify the commission of the creation of their works.

Requirements for Copyright Registration

The requirements for copyright registration in Nigeria include the followings:

  • Particulars of work being registered
    1. Owners Name, Address, Telephone number and Email address
    2. Type of work
    3. Title of work
    4. Year of Work
    5. Year of publication
    6. First publication country
    7. Date and year of registration
    8. Year of creation
  • Particulars of Author
    1. First name and last name
    2. Address and Telephone number
    3. Email address

Related or Neighboring Rights

Neighbouring rights refer to rights granted to performers for creative work that do not satisfy the requirement of fixation. The Copyright Act only protects two classes of neighbouring rights, which are live performances and expression of folklore.


A trademark is any word, name, symbol, or design, or any combination thereof, used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from those of another and to indicate the source of the goods.

The laws governing trademarks in Nigeria are the Trade Marks Act and the Trademark Regulations 1990. While the Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry under the Commercial Law Department of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, is the authority in charge of registration.

Trademarks in Nigeria can be registered in 45 different classes following the International Classification of Goods and Services also known as the Nice Classification.

The first stage in trademark registration in Nigeria is to conduct a search at specific class the trademark is sought to be registered. After the successful search, the trademark can be filed. The trademark is to be examined upon filing, if found to be registrable, it shall be duly registered, and the Acceptance Letter shall be given to the owner. The final stage is the publication of the trademark in the journal and collection of a certificate.

Requirements for Trademark Registration

The following are requirements every trademark applicant must present for registration:

  • Words and/or Logo to be trademarked
  • Applicant's name
  • Applicant's address
  • Applicant's email and phone number


A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention that gives the owner the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a limited period of years in exchange for publishing an enabling public disclosure of the invention. The patent is governed by the Patent and Design Act Cap P2 LFN 2004.

An invention is said to be patentable;

  1. if it is new or results from inventive activity and is capable of industrial application; or
  2. if it constitutes an improvement upon a patented invention and also is new results from inventive activity capable of industrial application.

Patents are not be granted in certain areas they include inventions in relation to plants, animal varieties, biological processes for the production of plants or animals, except microbiological processes and their product or inventions the publication or exploitation of which would be contrary to public order or morality.

Requirements for Patent Registration

A patent application shall be made to the registrar and shall contain the following;

  • The applicant's full name and address, where `that address is outside Nigeria, an address for service in Nigeria.
  • A description of the relevant invention with any appropriate plans and drawings.
  • A claim or claims;
  • Payment of the prescribed fees
  • if the applicant is an agent, a signed power of attorney will be required.


An industrial design is any combination of lines or colours or both, and any three-dimensional form, whether or not associated with colours. It 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 is not intended solely to obtain a technical result.

Industrial designs can be protected by registering it with the Nigerian Patents and Designs Registry, it is registrable if it is new (it has not been made available to the public) and is not contrary to public order or morality.

Requirements for Registration of Industrial Design

Application is to be made to the registrar containing the followings:

  • A registration request.
  • The applicant's full name and address (an address for service in Nigeria where the address is outside Nigeria)
  • A specimen of the design.
  • An indication of the kind of product or the class of product for which the design will be used.
  • The applicant will also have to pay the prescribed fee.
  • Where the application is made by an agent, a signed power of attorney will be required
  • Where it is made by the true creator, a declaration signed by the true creator requesting that his name be included in the Register of Designs.
  • The registrar shall examine every application for registration of an industrial design as to its conformity with the registration requirements.
  • The Registrar will approve the registration if he is satisfied that the application complies with the requirements by issuing to the applicant a certificate of registration.
  • Registration subsists for 5 years from the date of the application, renewable for 2 further consecutive periods of 5 years upon payment of the prescribed fee.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets need not be registered in Nigeria, but they can be protected through legal and technological procedures such as executing a confidentiality agreement or a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with third parties.

In Conclusion, the IP system enables owners to earn recognitions and financial benefits from their creation by striking a balance between the interest of innovators and that of the public to foster an environment where creativity and innovation can thrive. Most intellectual property rights in Nigeria require registration and there are many benefits associated with the registrations. Such benefits include the ability to profit from one's invention by licensing, franchising or authorizing the usage and ability easily prevent unlawful usage or any other infringement.

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.