Berkeley Legal | Protection of Intellectual Property Rights (Part 2) – Patents
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11 Jan Protection of Intellectual Property Rights (Part 2) – Patents

What is a Patent?

A patent grants to an inventor a monopoly over a product they have created which includes the ability to stop others from making, using and selling the product. Patents exist to incentivise inventors to be innovative and to produce products which could be protected under the law.

In Nigeria, patent law is governed by the Patents and Designs Act 1970 (the “Act”).

What Inventions are Patentable?

An invention is patentable in Nigeria if it satisfies the following requirements as outlined in Section 1 of the Act:

  • It must be new or an improvement on an already patented idea.
  • It must result from an inventive activity.
  • It must be capable of industrial application (i.e., it can be manufactured or used in any kind of
    industry).
  • inventions must not fall into non-patentable inventions. This includes plants or animal varieties, or
    biological processes for their production and inventions which publication or exploitation would be
    contrary to public order or morality.
  • If the invention is examined and satisfies the above criteria for patentability the next step is registration.

    Registration of Patents in Nigeria

    In Nigeria, the Patent’s Registry, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment administers the registration of patents. For an applicant to register a patent they must send the following:

  • A formal letter for grant of patent (an application), containing the applicant’s details (names
    and address) to the Registrar of Patents and Designs.
  • Specifications, description and claims of the invention in duplicate. This could include any
    drawings/designs or abstracts in duplicate.
  • If the application is made through an agent, evidence of a signed power of attorney,
    authorising the agent.
  • Evidence of payment of prescribed fees.
  • Address for service if applicant’s address is outside Nigeria.
  • Patents in Nigeria are granted at the patentee’s risk and without guarantee for their validity. The registrar only examines the documents to ensure that all required documents are filed. It is therefore important that an applicant for a patent consults a patent attorney during the process to ensure that patents are not challenged at a later date.

    Ownership of Patents

    A patent is usually owned by the inventor of the product. Where the work which creates the patentable product is done by an employee in the course of employment, the employer will most likely own the patent, unless the party contesting the patent proves that the employer could not force the employee to do that type of work in their usual course of employment. Patents can be transferred via succession or assignment to other parties.

    The Duration of Patents

    Patent protection in Nigeria only lasts for 20 years, after the time period, third parties are free to copy or make use of the patented idea.

    Benefits of registering a Patent

    Patentees can commercially exploit their patents, by licensing, assigning or creating such agreement with
    the patents to generate income.
    Patent grants monopoly right to the patentee’s invention for a maximum period of 20 (twenty years).
    Patents give patentees the opportunity to start legal proceedings against anyone that infringes their work.
    Having a patent also grants prestige to the Patentee’s work, and grants a sense of legitimacy.

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, Patent law is a beneficial tool that encourages innovation. Registering patents is extremely important, as it grants patentees monopoly rights of the use of their inventions and to commercially exploit their inventions.

    Berkeley Legal can advise and guide potential patentees with the registration process and to ensure that the Patentees’ rights are protected.

    The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require specific legal advice on any of the matters covered in this article please contact info@berkeleylegal.com.ng