Trademark registration is a type of intellectual property consisting of a recognisable sign, design, or expression that identifies products or services from a particular source and distinguishes them from others. The trademark owner can be an individual, business organisation, or any legal entity.
1. Trademark Search
Trademark search is conducted with the name of the trademark and its logo. The search report shall disclose marks which are close to the proposed mark and its class. This will make the trademark agent ascertain whether the mark will be accepted for publication or not.
Trademark search takes a period of 24-72 hours (1-3 business days).
2. Application Process
The application process is commenced by Form 1 (authorisation of agent) in form of a simple Power of Attorney; and Form 2 (details of the applicant) which includes the name and address of the company who owns the mark. Classification of goods and services for trademark registration are as stipulated in the Nice Agreement.
A trademark 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.
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-Federal Capital Territory (“the Trademark Registry”).
The duration for registration of marks in Nigeria is usually a period of 3-4 calendar months.
3. Notices from the Trademark Registry
After filing, the Trademark Registry would issue an Acknowledgment Letter, acknowledging receipt of the mark and soon after an Acceptance Letter which indicates that the mark has been accepted for publication. The mark would be published in the Trademark Journal which is published quarterly and a Trademark Certificate issued.
4. Response to Official Refusal
If a mark is submitted for registration and the Trademark Registry finds that it infringes another mark or it is not distinct, the Registry will issue a Notice of Refusal instead of an Acceptance Letter. The Agent or Attorney of the applicant shall appeal to the Trademark Registrar stating cogent reasons why the mark should be registered and published. The Examiner will examine the appeal and if convinced with the Agent’s or Attorney’s reasons, the mark will be accepted for publication (“the Examiner’s proceedings”).
If the Examiner is not convinced with the reasons, a Notice of Refusal will be reissued and the applicant will have to change the mark.
Where a mark has been published, an Attorney of the owner of the mark may by a Declaration before a Trademark Tribunal, state that a published mark infringes an existing mark of the owner.
The Attorney of the owner of the published mark which is alleged to have infringed an existing mark shall file a Counter Statement and Exhibits disputing facts stated in the Declaration. The Trademark Tribunal will fix a date for oral hearing before making a decision (“the Trademark Tribunal proceedings”).
Both the Examiner’s proceedings and the Trademark Tribunal proceedings take a period of 3 calendar months respectively.
Trademark registration in Nigeria is renewed after a period of 7 years.
Trademark is renewed by filing Form 12 showing the name of the applicant, the mark and its class as well as the Trademark Certificate number.
The renewal process takes a period of 1-2 calendar months.