As the world is unfolding, new creations and commercial innovations come into the limelight. These creations are people’s innovative ideas that are made alive through hard work and numerous researches.
It’s painful when these innovations are used without their permission and they experience losses.
These creations are priceless assets that must be protected at all costs from plagiarists, infringers, copyists, and thieves.
Sadly, the majority of innovators do not know the need of protecting their intellectual properties, and the ones who are knowledgeable, are not aware of how to go about it.
If you do not know how to protect your intellectual property, do not panic, this article is aimed at showing you the steps to protect your intellectual property.
What Is Intellectual Property
Intellectual property is any development of someone’s intellect conceived and brought to life which has marketable value. It may be an invention, a trade secret, a piece of literature, artistic works, symbols, names, images, designs, etc.
Intellectual Property is also the protection of individuals’ works under intellectual property law.
Types of Intellectual Property
Below are some of the types of intellectual property
A trademark is a word, mark, symbol, or phrase used to identify the goods or services of a particular company in the course of marketing or business.
Trademark Creates Brand Recognition, it builds brand reputation and It aids consumers to identify and become familiar with a particular product.
Examples of well-known trademarks are APPLE, COCA-COLA, MCDONALDS, and NIKE, etc.
Furthermore, you can trademark a lot of things, but there are a few things you cannot trademark. These things are:
- You can not register marks or words that describe a living person, without the person’s consent.
- You can not register marks that portray flags or seals of any country.
- You can not register marks that are naturally offensive, deceptive, improper, or unfavorable to law or morality.
- You can not register generic marks or words that simply name products or services. For example, you can’t trademark “soap” for a company that makes soaps.
- You can not register marks that deceive buyers into thinking the product or service is associated with a person or other company they are utterly familiar with, etc.
Copyright is the right to copy, it is the sole right given to a creator of an original work. (an artist, publisher, performer, writer, musician, performer, photographer, architect, sculptor, and filmmaker).
Copyright gives the creator the right to authorize or prohibit specific uses of his/her work by the general public.
The primary law that protects copyright in Nigeria is the Copyright Act, Cap C28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The organization responsible for issues concerning copyright in Nigeria is the Nigerian Copyright Commission.
Be cautious, Copyright only protects original and fixed creations in the literary and artistic field. Examples of works protected by copyright are
- Literary works
- Artistic works
- Musical works
- Cinematograph films
- Sound recording
A Patent is monopoly ownership granted for an invention. It is the right inventors have over new inventions. The inventors have the privilege of prohibiting others from imitating, using, or selling the claimed invention. Patent law in Nigeria is regulated by the Patent and Design Act Cap P2 LFN 2004.
Conditions For Patentability
The Conditions for patentability set out by the Section 1 of the Patent and Design Act are:
(a) If it is new, results from inventive activity and is capable of industrial application; or
(b) If it constitutes an improvement upon a patented invention and also is new, results from the inventive activity, and is capable of industrial application.
List of patentable items
- Business methods
- Computer software
- Computer hardware
- Computer accessories
- Internet advances
- Magic tricks
- Musical instruments
- Sporting Goods
4. Industrial Design
An industrial design is an aesthetic feature of a product. It is the blend of colors, lines, or both to give a product a unique and distinct appearance.
Industrial Design may be three-dimensional elements such as the shape or surface of a product or two-dimensional elements such as patterns, lines, or colors.
Design is crucial when building a brand. It will stand you out amidst your competitors and stir consumers’ interest in your products or services.
Requirements For The Protection Of Industrial Designs
The industrial design is governed by the Nigerian Patents and Designs Act and the requirements for the protection of industrial designs are:
- It must be new
- It must be original
- It must not be contrary to public order or morality
Laws Regulating Intellectual Property Rights In Nigeria
- The Trade Marks Act
- The Patents and Designs Act
- The Merchandise Marks Act
- The Copyright Act
- The Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules
10 Steps To Protect Intellectual Property In Nigeria
Intellectual property theft is rampant in our society today as information is more accessible and easier to distribute due to technological inventions.
However, it is important to safeguard your creations from intellectual thieves and infringers to avoid losses. The steps to protect your intellectual property are:
1. Register Copyright
Copyright is one of the most common types of Intellectual Property protection. Copyright will give you to your creations, most importantly if it comes to the commercial profit of its use.
The creator of a literary, artistic, or musical work enjoys copyright throughout his/her lifetime and for 70 years after his/her death.
Moreover, in the case of films, sound recording, etc., the owner enjoys Copyright for 50 years from the time the work is first published.
Further, your work returns to public space when the terms of protection and the public are allowed to use them free of charge.
Registering your creations with the copyright will keep your intellectual property safe. Some privileges you enjoy when you have copyright.
- You will have the right to be acknowledged in any use of your work
- You will also prevent any derogatory use, alteration, distortion, or mutilation of your work
- You will enjoy the right to make money from your work by setting the condition on how you want the work to be commercially used by a third party.
Moreover, you can prohibit or authorize the following acts:
- The imitation of your work in various forms such as printed publication, photocopying, or making a recording in any media
- The public performance of your work such as acting a play in the theatre
- The recording of the creation of your work in the form of discs, cassettes, videotapes, etc.
- The broadcasting of your creation by radio, cable, or satellite
- The translation of your creation in other languages
- The distribution of your creation commercially by way of sales, hiring, or rentals
How To Register with The Nigerian Copyright Commission
It is very easy to register with the Nigerian Copyright Commission as two options are provided for the registration—physical and online registrations.
In the case of physical registration, you can submit your application for registration to any of the Commission’s offices nationwide.
You will have to submit a complete registration form with two copies of your work and evidence of payment of the required fee to the Commission.
The duration for the process of the physical registration applications is within ten working days.
Furthermore, for Online registration, you can visit their website to create an account to get started.
The online submissions using the online payment platform may take a limited time to be processed, unlike the physical registration.
The fee for copyright registration is naira ten thousand Naira (10,000 Naira) for those paying in naira, and $60 for those who are registering from overseas.
You can pay your registration fee online through the use of a credit or debit card, or the Commission’s issued scratch card. Alternatively, the fee can be paid through a bank deposit.
In addition, you are not to register all your works in one application, but in a separate application. However, you can register your works as a collection on one application with one title for the overall collection.
2. Register Your Trademark
Registering your trademark is another way of protecting your Intellectual Property.
The appropriate council in charge of trademark registration is the Trademarks, Patents, and Designs Registry under the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment.
Trademark registration will give you the right to exclude others from copying or wrongly using your creations without your consent.
You also have the right to oppose any future trademark registration that may infringe on your trademark.
How To Register A Trademark
There are three steps involved in registering a trademark. These steps are.
Search And Application
It is necessary to conduct a test on your trademark to make sure it has not been used by someone else before applying for the registration of the trademark.
This is the stage where your application is approved after a successful search has been carried out.
At this stage, the registry will accept, register the trademark and issue an acceptance letter to you. the acceptance letter is the initial proof that your trademark has been duly registered.
4. Publication And Certification
After the acceptance of the registration of the trademark, the registrar will assure the notice of the application is published in the trademark journal.
By this publication, any interested person would have the opportunity to disagree with the registration if it is false.
5. Register Patent
To protect your intellectual property, it is necessary to register your patents. Patents hold legal protection that excludes others from making and distributing your invention unless you authorize them.
Application of Patent
The formal requirement for the registration of patents include
- The applicant’s full name and address.
- A description of the relevant invention with any appropriate plans and drawings.
- Prescribe fees for the registration.
- A declaration signed by the true inventor requesting he/she should be mentioned as such in the patent and giving his name and address.
- A signed power of a lawyer if the application is made by an agent.
6. Register Industrial Designs
To register your industrial designs, an application must be filed at the Registry of Trademarks, Patents, and Designs in Nigeria.
Steps To Register Your Industrial Designs
- You must make sure your design conforms to the requirement of registration
- You must not publicize the design before seeking registration for the design.
- You must provide a specimen of the design.
- You must provide basic information including your name, address, an idea of the kind of products associated with the design, and the title of the design.
- You will also be required to pay the prescribed fees for the registration
- You need a Power of Attorney if your application is being made by an agent.
7. Register Your Business, Product, or Domain Name
If you want to start a business with your Intellectual Property, it is necessary to register your business, product, or domain name to protect your interest and identity.
Registering your business will also help secure your business even if you are not starting immediately to prevent others from coming up with similar ideas to overtake you.
8. Establish Confidentiality Agreement With Your Employees or Partners
It is crucial to have a confidentiality agreement with your employees or partners. In business, there is always crucial information that you should protect from the general public.
For instance, you are developing an app, and you don’t want it to be known until it’s ready to commence.
it is sensible to make those working for you, who have access to the trade secrets, sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure Intellectual Property protection.
The confidentiality agreements must be prepared by lawyers because they bound employees, and workers to comply with your demand to keep what they know a secret.
It is also necessary to have a confidentiality agreement in place before discussing your design with anyone.
9. Enforce Security Measures
Today, nearly all businesses are operated using the Internet. The internet may fuel the growth, dynamics, and success of a business but it can be of disadvantage especially if your company’s Intellectual Property is connected online or stored in a system that may be susceptible to hacking or file corruption.
There is a need to implement strong security measures within the IT framework of your company and safeguard your Intellectual Property with strong access control
These measures include:
- Set up password security for all computer networks
- Don’t post confidential information on public websites.
- Encrypt data, especially since files are shared within the company’s IT system
- use virtual private network access(VPN)
- Establish Wi-Fi Protected Access
- Invest in reliable software tools to use for storing and distributing files regardless of the size of your business.
- Hire a team of trustworthy IT experts to implement these security measures.
10. Avoid Joint Ownership
Make sure you avoid joint ownership of the intellectual property at all costs. Joint ownership will create problems in the future that would make it difficult to protect Intellectual Property.
Now that you’ve known how to protect your Intellectual Property, it is pertinent to enforce the steps to safeguard your creations and gain from them instead of losing.