Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Legal Profession in an Emerging Economy: A Conference Report on all things IP-related (2)

Also at the IP Committee (7th Annual Business Law Conference of the Section on Business Law (SBL), Mrs Nima Salman Mann (Director, Commercial Law Department of the Trademarks, Patent and Designs Registry) spoke on the Administration of Industrial Property and related matters in Nigeria.

Before-and-after pictures of the trademark filing room were shown as evidence of the strides which Mrs Mann and her team have taken since she assumed her position as Director of the Registry.

Mrs Mann was asked the following questions:   
What needs to be done to upgrade the TM Registry to the status of a full commission?
Mrs Mann: There are presently 4 Bills before the National Assembly in that regard. These bills are from different interest groups and there is no harmony. In any event, the Executive Council is currently looking at a recommendation.
Mrs Araba circulated (for viewing only) newspaper clips where it was reported that the Trademark and Patent Registry and the Nigerian Copyright Commission have been merged to form a new commission (Nigerian Intellectual Property Commission) which would now be under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice.

Could you provide us with email addresses and telephone numbers to which we may direct our enquiries to?
Mrs Mann: The Registry currently has no telephone number that can work at all times. Please send your emails to (This Leo wonders why the Registry is still using a yahoo account in this century)

Several initiatives exist for an IP Policy: Have you seen this policy and are you able to continue them?
Mrs Mann: WIPO is sending a consultant to look at remodelling the Registry and merging the work flow. The consultant will come up with a harmonised IP policy document.

Why not get students and corp members to assist in getting the filing room in shape? This has worked in South Africa.
Mrs Mann: We have tried this in the past but we discovered that these students, apart from lacking experience, are also being manipulated to remove documents from files. WIPO has just shared a filing format which we are implementing. (This Leo asks, “What ever happened to using CCTV cameras?” “Were the students left with no supervision?” “Do Registry employees work without supervision too?”)

There were also comments and suggestions about having IPR holders provide funds to the Registry to enable it conduct raids on counterfeiters, developing a proper national IP Policy document and encouraging development of local content.

On Commercialisation of IP in an emerging economy, Mrs Araba spoke on the need to review and adjust legislative framework to facilitate e-commerce and develop capacity-building programs. She wondered if Nigeria has the capacity to pool patents or own a patent which might be worth cross-licensing.

Mr Adeogun (one of the Discussants) emphasized the need for locally-owned patents. According to him, products developed from such patents will be better matched to the country’s needs. He cited the example of the development and sale of insecticide-treated mosquito nets which are to be used on beds. How many Africans sleep on beds, he wondered?

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