Patent like trademark registration is one of the forms of protecting your intellectual property. Patent registration in Nigeria gives an inventor the right to exclude others from making, selling or using the invention for a period of time. The patent system is designed to encourage inventions that are unique and useful to the society.

Differences between Patent and other forms of Intellectual Property

WHAT IS PROTECTED Inventions, such as processes, machines, manufactures, compositions of matter as well as improvements to these Original works of authorship, such as books, articles, songs, photographs, sculptures, choreography, sound recordings, motion pictures, and other works Any word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others
REQUIREMENTS An invention must be new, useful and nonobvious A work must be original, creative and fixed in a tangible medium A mark must be distinctive (i.e., that is, it must be capable of identifying the source of a particular good)
VALIDITY PERIOD Validity of 20 years from the date of filing application 70 years after the end of the year in which the author dies Initial validity of 7 years and subsequent renewal for 14 years
RIGHTS GRANTED Right to prevent others from making, selling using or importing the patented invention Right to control the reproduction, making of derivative works, distribution and public performance and display of the copyrighted works Right to use the mark and to prevent others from using similar marks in a way that would cause a likelihood-of-confusion about the origin of the goods or services.

Registration of patents

Patents must be registered. If you invent something and fail to register it, another person who independently invents or discovers your invention can patent it. There are 3 general requirements for registering a patent:

The invention must be:

  • novel,
  • useful, and
  • must show ingenuity (i.e. not be obvious).

The Regulatory agency that manages the grant of patents is the Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry, Commercial Law Department, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

Requirements for patent registration in Nigeria

For every patent application made in Nigeria, the following accompanying documents must be submitted at the Trademark, Patent and Design Registry:

  1. Petition or request for a patent signed by the applicant or his agent and containing the applicant's full name and address;
  2. a specification, including a claim or claims in duplicate;
  3. plans and drawings, if any, in duplicate;
  4. a declaration signed by the true inventor requesting that he be mentioned as such in the patent and giving his name and address (where applicable);
  5. a signed power of attorney or authorization of agent if the application is made by an agent; and
  6. an address for service in Nigeria if the applicant's address is outside Nigeria.

Where the applicant for a patent seeks to avail himself/herself of a foreign priority in respect of an earlier application made in a country outside Nigeria, he/she is required to attach to his application a written declaration showing:

  1. the date and number of the earlier application,
  2. the country in which the earlier application was made, and
  3. the name of the person who made the earlier application; and

He/She will also furnish the Registrar, not more than three months after making the application, with a copy of the earlier application certified correct by the Industrial Property Office (or its equivalent) in the country where the earlier application was made.

Patent Application Process in Nigeria

An applicant for patent registration must ensure that the application is in line with the requirements provided above. The completed application should be filed at the Trademark, Patent and Design Registry where all documents will be verified to ensure correctness and accuracy.

The Registrar will confirm every patent application and ensure that is in line with the requirement, non-compliance will lead to the rejected application. Also, a patent application is applicable to only one invention which in turn may apply to many products, where the applicant makes one application for more than one invention, such applicant will be invited by the Registrar to restrict the application to reflect only one application.

Where the verification has been successfully been carried, and it shows that the requirements have been complied with, the patent shall be granted as applied for. A patent shall be granted to the patentee in form of a document containing the following documents:

  1. the number of the patent in the order of grant;
  2. the name and address of the patentee and, if that address is outside Nigeria, an address for service in Nigeria;
  3. the dates of the patent application and the grant;
  4. if foreign priority is claimed: an indication of the fact, and the number and date of the application on which the claim is based and the name of the country where it was made;
  5. the description of the invention (with any relevant plans and drawings) and the claims; and
  6. where appropriate, the name and address of the true inventor.

Upon successful registration, the Registrar will include the details in the Register of Patents, and same details will be published to serve as notification to the public.

Effect of Patent Registration

A registered patent confers upon the patentee the right to preclude any other person from doing any of the following acts-

  1. where the patent has been granted in respect of a product, the act of making, importing, selling or using the product, or stocking it for the purpose of sale or use; and
  2. where the patent has been granted in respect of a process, the act of applying the process or doing, in respect of a product obtained directly by means of the process, any of the acts mentioned in paragraph (a) of this subsection.

The scope of the protection conferred by a patent shall be determined by the terms of the claims; and the description (and the plans and drawings, if any) included in the patent which shall be used to interpret the claims.

Duration and Validity Period

Every patent in Nigeria is valid for twenty years from the date of the filing of the relevant patent application. A patent may also become invalid if the prescribed annual fees are not duly paid, upon payment the patent becomes valid again as the dues have been duly paid.

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.