Monday, 17 June 2013

All the talk about TRIPS deadline extension …

Here's the final guest post from Chijioke Ifeoma Okorie, who has now joined the regular Afro-IP team:
The Least Developed Countries’ agitation for an extension of the deadline within which they must comply with TRIPS reminds me of the decision of Nigeria’s High Court affirmed by the Court of Appeal in CA/L/573/2008: Microsoft Corporation v Franike Associates Limited. In that case, Microsoft had sued Franike claiming, in the main, for an order restricting Franike from infringing Microsoft’s copyright in its software programs and products (“WINDOWS” especially). Franike provided no defence to Microsoft’s allegations. Rather, it challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to entertain Microsoft’s claims on the ground that Microsoft has not provided proof of reciprocal protection of copyright laws between Nigeria and United States of America. The Court of Appeal affirmed the ruling of the Federal High Court and agreed with Franike that the Federal High Court does not have jurisdiction to entertain suits relating to US copyrights in the absence of a certificate from the Nigerian Copyright Commission certifying that Nigeria and USA are co-signatories to an international agreement relating to copyright or a Gazette from the Minister in charge of copyright matters extending the provisions of the Copyright Act, 2004, to copyrights from the United States of America.

The Nigerian Copyright Commission was quick to the rescue and published a notice on its website stating that by virtue of the Schedule to the Copyright (Reciprocal Extension) Order of 1972, US works are protected under Nigeria’s Copyright Act. If the courts will not examine an alleged case of infringement of foreign copyright work unless a certificate showing reciprocity is produced, is an extension of compliance deadline any more favourable for other countries?

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