You don’t want to get tangled in a dispute over the ownership of a trademark.
It’s a potentially rancorous, drawn-out and often expensive fight. There’s also the danger of having to rebuild public recognition for a new trademark if you’re forced to drop a previous one on the grounds that it resembled some other company’s logo too closely. If you don’t need any of such drama, then you may want to register your trademark with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI).
You can save yourself the sleepless nights that could come with this problem, if you get your trademark registered with the right authorities. In Nigeria, they are the Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry. It’s a subdivision of the Commercial Law Department of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI). The registry grants individuals and businesses legal right over their ideas, inventions, trade secrets and designs. Persons who have their trademarks registered with the ministry can claim legal ownership of those trademarks, and defend their right to own them in law courts.
If you would like to ensure that no other entity is able to successfully take your logos, labels or signatures away from you, you should get those items registered. Here’s how:
What you need to have
Hire the services of an accredited legal agent, who’ll help you submit your trademark application at the registry. You’ll be required to provide the following when filing a trademark application:
- Application details, such as the full names, nationality and address of the applicant.
- Trademark information, which is expected to be unique, clear, and in the dimensions 120dpi by 100dpi (length to breadth). If you’re submitting a softcopy online, it should in jpeg format and not less than 1200dpi.
- All goods for which the trademark(s) will be used. Submit a separate application for each product.
- A Power of Attorney (POA), which is a letter authorizing a legal agent to act on behalf of a business. This document should be signed, and contain the names, addresses and nationality of the applicant. If they’re representing a business, they should also disclose their position in that business.
Note: If you register your logo in full colours, the registration will only grant you rights over the logo in those particular colours. If it’s registered in black and white, you’ll have rights over all colour representations of your logo.
The registration process
Your attorney or agent will have the right to act on your behalf after you’ve authorized them to do so. They’ll have to present evidence of this (the ‘Power of Attorney’ document) to the registry.
After the required registration items are submitted, the registrar issues an official acknowledgement of the application to the applicant. A preliminary search for any possible matches for the submitted trademark follows; if the trademark is found to be sufficiently unique, the applicant gets a letter of acceptance.
The final stage of the process is the publication of the trademark application in the Nigerian Trademark Journal. This public advertisement gives possible opposition to the trademark’s ownership to be heard and considered. If there’s no objection to the trademark two months from the day of the publication, the registrar issues a Certificate of Registration to the applicant, which gives them full rights to their trademark.
Trademarks registered with the Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry are initially valid for 7 years. After this, they can be renewed for 14 years for an indefinite number of times. Just make sure you’re not less than three months away from the due date when you apply for a renewal.
Click here to visit the Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry’s website.