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Strengthening Intellectual Property Rights And Protection In Nigeria


At a time when Oil, the nation’s principal source of foreign exchange earnings, is facing a precarious future (dwindling volume of production resulting from decaying and vandalized infrastructure; plummeting international prices and; competing, more efficient, alternative energy sources), the time to transform the nation from a traditional commodities-based and import-driven economy, to a knowledge-economy exporting expertise, talents, value-added products and tech-savvy inventions is ripe. This accounts for the current national agitation for a developed and self-reliant economy, buoyed by diversification.

We observe that a concurrent NIPP that will drive our collective industrial, technological and economic advancement goals must be developed and integrated into the diversification efforts. Additionally, we recommend that a holistic reform of the country’s IP sector be immediately commenced with focus on attaining the following:

1. Clearly defined policy direction to be published in the national official gazette.

2. Integration of the developed NIPP into national consciousness through vigorous public awareness campaigns to be championed by the National Orientation Agency.

3. Inculcation of the NIPP into school curricula from the Senior Secondary School level to higher institutions of learning.

4. Automation of the systems in all IP registration offices and their harmonization with the platforms of all regulatory bodies for trade, business and investments in Nigeria; including but not limited to the CAC, Copyright Commission, Patents and Designs Registry, Trade Mark Registry, SON, NOTAP, CBN, NCS, FIRS, and NAFDAC. This will have the effect of creating a common database for these bodies. In like manner, it is also suggested that NOTAP and NITDA should be merged while the various laws constituting the IP framework should be revised to ensure that areas of overlap are addressed and that they complement one another rather than contradict or intrude into the purview of one another.

5. Financial autonomy for law enforcement agencies and the judiciary with adequate staff training in latest technology for both. Reforms of old IP laws and enactment of new ones in line with modern bilateral and multilateral treaties such as the TRIPS Agreement.

6. Finally, further amendment of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) to create constitutionally recognized, specialized IP courts to handle IP-related matters. Competent legal practitioners skilled and experienced in IP law should be appointed both from the bar, the bench and the academia to sit at the specialized IP courts.

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