Monday, 5 March 2012

A to Z of African official IP websites no.38: Nigeria

The 38th country in Kingsley Egbuonu's alphabetical trek around Africa's official intellectual property office websites takes him to the populous, restlessly-creative and always challenging jurisdiction of Nigeria, which is not so much a country as a world of its own -- it hosts so many languages, cultures, resources and competing economic interests within its borders. This is Kingsley's summary:
Overview

Nigeria is a Contracting Party to several intellectual property treaties including the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Nigeria holds observer status with the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO).

Copyright Office

• The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), under the Ministry of Justice, is the competent office responsible for copyright and related rights in Nigeria.
• The website for this office is www.copyright.gov.ng

Industrial Property Office (IPO)

• The Registry of Trade Marks, Patents and Designs (Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry) is the competent office responsible for the administration of intellectual property rights in Nigeria. 
• Apparently, the official website for this office is www.iponig.com (when tested this morning, the link didn't work. Can anyone advise?)

Technology Transfer Office 

• The National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) under the Ministry of Science and Technology is the competent office responsible for, inter alia, IP promotion and commercialisation, registration of technology transfer agreements and other IP advisory services including patent filing. 
• The website for this office is www.notap.gov.ng

Social Media Presence

• The NCC is on facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nigerian-Copyright-Commission/226944477362880 

• NOTAP uses both facebook and twitter.

Intellectual Property update on Nigeria

• We have also reported on the agreement between the UK’s IPO and the Nigerian Copyright Commission to cooperate on all matters relating to copyright.

Brief analysis

Afro-IP took the unusual step by adding NOTAP as a third office to the normal two seen so far in other countries. First on the positive side, we are pleased to report that the websites for the NCC and NOTAP are both functional and useful albeit a few pages under construction. Now let’s proceed to the main IP office.

When Afro-IP visited and reported on the launch of www.iponig.com last year, it was impressed with its findings. Unfortunately, we are disappointed to now report that this website is either currently offline or no longer in existence. No news report was found dealing with this problem.

Nigeria’s national development agenda, boldly titled: Vision 20:2020 (Vol. II), does recognise the importance of IP to its economic aspirations. On page 221, Part IV, a conducive environment for IPRs for the benefit of a knowledge-based economy is envisaged. Further down on page 227, one of the strategies for a strong ICT sector is to ensure adequate systems for IPRs protection. There is equally an audacious statement on page 96, Chapter 8 (Vol.III) of same agenda, which talks about security of life and property – and, to Afro-IP’s surprise and delight, this included intellectual property.

Indeed, these observations in Vision 20:2020 go to demonstrate that Nigeria has incorporated IP in its economic development agenda for the future but, without a website for its main IP office, the hope instantly diminishes. As a Next-11 country with potentials within its entertainment and fast-moving consumer goods FMCG sectors, it would be naïve for Nigeria to be lax about IP.

Conclusion

It is very well documented that Nigeria is not wretched. Therefore, in a digital age, having an official IP office website will not just show credibility and/or commitment but, crucially, it will serve to provide up-to-date information to users and can actually help – if it has an IPRs search facility-- reduce unnecessary IP infringement actions such as the notorious one reported here
 and here.

It may well be the case that the administration system for IPRs in Nigeria could be better served by splitting the main IP registry into two parts. Consequentially, Nigeria should then be in a better position to strategically focus on and perfect the IP it can create the most – for example trade marks and designs- as it slowly get to grips with patents.

Finally, Afro-IP is a bit confused as to the precise role of NOTAP. Although it plays a vital role in ensuring that Nigeria is not left behind in terms of technological advancement, NOTAP appears to be burdened with numerous duties and responsibilities (see here and here) some of which align it in competition with the IP Registry and/or IP firms in Nigeria.

What do readers think?"
Kingsley tweets as @IPinAfrica

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

the correct site is http://www.iponigeria.com/

Kingsley said...

Anonymous, thanks for this update.