In Nigeria, for a trade mark to be registered, it must contain or consist of at least the name of a company, individual, or firm, represented in a special or particular manner; the signature of the applicant for registration or some predecessor in his business; an invented word or invented words; a word or words having no direct reference to the character or quality of the goods, and not being according to its ordinary geographical name or a surname; or any other distinctive mark. Unless a trademark is registered in Nigeria, its Owner shall not be entitled to institute any proceeding to prevent, or to recover damages for its infringement. A trade mark must be registered in respect of particular goods or classes of goods. Upon registration of a mark, the Owner is given exclusive right to the use of that trade mark in relation to those goods.
A registered trademark is assignable and transmissible either in connection with the goodwill of a business or not. A registered trade mark is assignable and transmissible in respect of either all the goods in respect of which it was registered or of some of those goods. An unregistered trade mark is assignable and transmissible if at the time of the transmission of the unregistered trade mark it is used in the same business as a registered trade mark; it is assigned or transmitted at the same time and to the same person as a registered trade mark; and in respect of goods to which the unregistered trade mark is used in that business. For an assignment of a trademark to be valid, the assignee of the trademark shall apply to the Registrar of Trademark for directions with respect to the advertisement of the assignment and advertise the assignment in such form and manner and within such period as the Registrar may direct. The notice of assignment shall be published in the Trademark Journal.
If a trademark is registered in a foreign country who is a member of a Convention to which Nigeria is also a member, the applicant in the foreign country shall have priority over other applicants to register the mark in Nigeria, provided the trademark is registered in Nigeria within 6 months from the date of registration in the foreign country. However, if in the course of registration of the trademark in Nigeria, it is discovered that another company has already registered the trademark or any mark or name close to it , the subsequent applicant may apply to the Trademark Registrar or institute an action at the Trademark Tribunal for the mark to be struck out in the name of that company and registered in the name of the subsequent applicant on the grounds that the subsequent applicant has long transacted business with the mark and is known all over the world by the mark.
Registration of trademark in Nigeria is effected at the Trademark, Patents and Designs Registry, Commercial Law Department, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Area 1, Garki, Abuja. The registration process is commenced by conducting a search on the trademark mark and if the mark does not infringe an existing mark, the mark would be presented for filing. After filing, the Trademark Registry would issue an Acknowledgment Letter for filing of the mark and soon after an Acceptance Letter. Upon acceptance, the mark is published in the Trademark Journal which is published quarterly and a Trademark Certificate would be issued.
The requirement for registration of a trademark includes the name of the company who owns the mark, its address, a simple Power of Attorney appointing the Trademark Agent to act as its Attorney for the purpose of registration of the mark and a copy of the device or mark to be registered in Nigeria. The duration for registration of trademarks in Nigeria is usually a period of 3-4 months. Registration of trademark in Nigeria is renewed after 7 years.
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