What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one business from those of other businesses. Trademarks are protected by intellectual property rights under the laws of a given nation.
What is the purpose of Trademarks?
Trademarks serve as indications of origin and quality.
They represent the “goodwill” or reputation a business and its products/services enjoys with the public.
Wherein, businesses rely on their marks to identify their products and services and distinguish them from those of their competitors. The public relies on marks to distinguish among competing producers and as guarantees of quality.
What can be Trademarked?
Some of the items that can be registered as trademark will include name, slogan, domain name, shape, colour and logo.
Life cycle of a Trademark
- Creation– Choosing a trademark or service mark
- Screening and Clearance– Making sure the proposed mark is available
- Protection– Seeking protection, country-by-country
- Maintenance– Renewing trademark registrations
The trademark registration in Nigeria as provided for by Trade Mark Act LFN 1990 is one important way to protect and distinguish someone’s trade symbols in Nigeria. All individuals or entrepreneurs or companies should strive at all times to protect their business’ identities by registering unique symbols or trademarks of the business. Registering a trademark in Nigeria is the only way to protect a unique brand in the market place.
Trademark registration in Nigeria gives the owner the right to use such registration to exclude others from violating or willfully copying or usage by a third party without consent. A registered owner of a trademark may institute an action in court to block any infringements or unauthorized use of their trademarks.
How to Register a Trademark in Nigeria
Trademarks are usually registered through the Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry, Commercial Law Department of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in Nigeria.
Stages of Registration
There are three major stages involved in trademark registration. They include;
- Application for an item to be trademarked is made to the Registry and a search is conducted for availability check of such a mark to be registered. An acknowledgement letter is issued to the applicant.
- Upon successful search, an acceptance letter is issued to the Applicant and such letter is an initial evidence that the Trademark has been duly registered.
- Following the acceptance of the registration, the Trademark is being published on a Trademark Journal (this is to afford anyone with a pre-existing trademarks to oppose the Registrar to stop registration. Such opposition must be made within 2 months of the publication. In the absence of any opposition, to the publication in the journal, or opposition has been made and successfully resolved in favour of the applicant, the Certificate of Registration will be issued for the trademark sought.The Certificate indicates the evidence of due registration and completion of all processes. It confers a right on the proprietor or the owner to use the trademark to the exclusion of every other entity.
It is however important to note that where any other person or entity successfully challenged the applicant in opposing a trademark registration, the Registrar will issue a letter of refusal to the applicant.
What are the Requirements for Trademark Registration in Nigeria?
- Applicant’s details (I.e, Name of Company, Individual or Firm)
- Contact detailsof the applicant
- Power of attorney appointing the trademark agent. (we will draft this and forward to you for execution)
- A copy of device, logo, word or words proposed for trademarking.
- Company seal or individual signature (as the case maybe).
Lifespan and Renewal of Trademark in Nigeria
Trademark subsists for a period 7 years and can be renewed upon expiration.. Every subsequent renewal lasts for 14 years. The requirements for a trademark renewal are as follows:
- Trademark Certificate
- Power of Attorney appointing the agent and
- Payment of the prescribed fee
Assignments and Recordings in Nigeria
A trademark titleholder may assign such trademark to another person or entity for usage within a period of time. An Assignee or Assignor of the trademark right may apply to the trademark office for the recording of such title or right in favour of the Assignee. However, it preferably convenient for the Assignee to carry out the recording itself or himself/herself, owing to the fact that only the holder of a trademark title or right may enforce such aright against any infringing third party.
The requirements for trademark recording are as follows:
- Trademark Certificate
- Deed or Agreement assigning the trademark
- Power of Attorney appointing the agent and
- Payment of the prescribed fee
What are the available Classes of Trademark in Nigeria?
The trademark registration is classified into 45 different categories in accordance with the Nice international system of classification of the Nice Agreement 1957 (amended September, 28 1979). It is important for every applicant to understand the classes the registering trademark belongs to or closely align with. However, a trademark may be registered in more than one class where the applicant is seeking protection in both classes. And where applicant seeking protection in multiple classes, separate filing fees must be paid for each of the classes.
List of Trademark Classes is as follows;
Class 1: Chemicals used in industry, science and photography, as well as in agriculture, horticulture and forestry; unprocessed artificial resins, unprocessed plastics; manures; fire extinguishing compositions; tempering and soldering preparations; chemical substances for preserving foodstuffs; tanning substances; adhesives used in industry; unprocessed plastics in the form of liquids, chips or granules.
Class 2: Paints, varnishes, lacquers; preservatives against rust and against deterioration of wood; colorants; mordants; raw natural resins; metals in foil and powder form for painters, decorators, printers and artists.
Class 3: Bleaching preparations and other substances for laundry use; cleaning, polishing, scouring and abrasive preparations; soaps; perfumery, essential oils, cosmetics, hair lotions; dentifrices.
Class 4: Industrial oils and greases; lubricants; dust absorbing, wetting and binding compositions; fuels and illuminants; candles and wicks for lighting; combustible fuels, electricity and scented candles.
Class 5: Pharmaceutical and veterinary preparations; sanitary preparations for medical purposes; dietetic food and substances adapted for medical or veterinary use, food for babies; dietary supplements for humans and animals; plasters, materials for dressings; material for stopping teeth, dental wax; disinfectants; preparations for destroying vermin; fungicides, herbicides.
Class 6: Common metals and their alloys; metal building materials; transportable buildings of metal; materials of metal for railway tracks; non-electric cables and wires of common metal; ironmongery, small items of metal hardware; pipes and tubes of metal; safes; goods of common metal not included in other classes; ores; unwrought and partly wrought common metals; metallic windows and doors; metallic framed conservatories.
Class 7: Machines and machine tools; motors and engines (except for land vehicles); machine coupling and transmission components (except for land vehicles); agricultural implements other than hand-operated; incubators for eggs; automatic vending machines.
Class 8: Hand tools and hand operated implements; cutlery; side arms; razors; electric razors and hair cutters.
Class 9: Scientific, nautical, surveying, photographic, cinematographic, optical, weighing, measuring, signalling, checking (supervision), life-saving and teaching apparatus and instruments; apparatus and instruments for conducting, switching, transforming, accumulating, regulating or controlling electricity; apparatus for recording, transmission or reproduction of sound or images; magnetic data carriers, recording discs; compact discs, DVDs and other digital recording media; mechanisms for coin-operated apparatus; cash registers, calculating machines, data processing equipment, computers; computer software; fire-extinguishing apparatus.
Class 10: Surgical, medical, dental and veterinary apparatus and instruments, artificial limbs, eyes and teeth; orthopaedic articles; suture materials; sex aids; massage apparatus; supportive bandages; furniture adapted for medical use.
Class 11: Apparatus for lighting, heating, steam generating, cooking, refrigerating, drying, ventilating, water supply and sanitary purposes; air conditioning apparatus; electric kettles; gas and electric cookers; vehicle lights and vehicle air conditioning units.
Class 12: Vehicles; apparatus for locomotion by land, air or water; wheelchairs; motors and engines for land vehicles; vehicle body parts and transmissions.
Class 13: Firearms; ammunition and projectiles, explosives; fireworks.
Class 14: Precious metals and their alloys; jewellery, costume jewellery, precious stones; horological and chronometric instruments, clocks and watches.
Class 15: Musical instruments; stands and cases adapted for musical instruments.
Class 16: Paper, cardboard and goods made from these materials, not included in other classes; printed matter; bookbinding material; photographs; stationery; adhesives for stationery or household purposes; artists’ materials; paint brushes; typewriters and office requisites (except furniture); instructional and teaching material (except apparatus); plastic materials for packaging (not included in other classes); printers’ type; printing blocks.
Class 17: Rubber, gutta-percha, gum, asbestos, mica and goods made from these materials; plastics in extruded form for use in manufacture; semi-finished plastics materials for use in further manufacture; stopping and insulating materials; flexible non-metallic pipes.
Class 18: Leather and imitations of leather; animal skins, hides; trunks and travelling bags; handbags, rucksacks, purses; umbrellas, parasols and walking sticks; whips, harness and saddlery; clothing for animals.
Class 19: Non-metallic building materials; non-metallic rigid pipes for building; asphalt, pitch and bitumen; non-metallic transportable buildings; non-metallic monuments; non-metallic framed conservatories, doors and windows.
Class 20: Furniture, mirrors, picture frames; articles made of wood, cork, reed, cane, wicker, horn, bone, ivory, whalebone, shell, amber, mother-of-pearl, meerschaum or plastic which are not included in other classes; garden furniture; pillows and cushions.
Class 21: Household or kitchen utensils and containers; combs and sponges; brushes; brush-making materials; articles for cleaning purposes; steel wool; articles made of ceramics, glass, porcelain or earthenware which are not included in other classes; electric and non-electric toothbrushes.
Class 22: Ropes, string, nets, tents, awnings, tarpaulins, sails, sacks for transporting bulk materials; padding and stuffing materials which are not made of rubber or plastics; raw fibrous textile materials.
Class 23: Yarns and threads, for textile use.
Class 24: Textiles and textile goods; bed and table covers; travellers’ rugs, textiles for making articles of clothing; duvets; covers for pillows, cushions or duvets.
Class 25: Clothing, footwear, headgear.
Class 26: Lace and embroidery, ribbons and braid; buttons, hooks and eyes, pins and needles; artificial flowers.
Class 27: Carpets, rugs, mats and matting, linoleum and other materials for covering existing floors; wall hangings (non-textile); wallpaper.
Class 28: Games and playthings; playing cards; gymnastic and sporting articles; decorations for Christmas trees; childrens’ toy bicycles.
Class 29: Meat, fish, poultry and game; meat extracts; preserved, dried and cooked fruits and vegetables; jellies, jams, compotes; eggs, milk and milk products; edible oils and fats; prepared meals; soups and potato crisps.
Class 30: Coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, rice, tapioca, sago, artificial coffee; flour and preparations made from cereals, bread, pastry and confectionery, ices; honey, treacle; yeast, baking-powder; salt, mustard; vinegar, sauces (condiments); spices; ice; sandwiches; prepared meals; pizzas, pies and pasta dishes.
Class 31: Agricultural, horticultural and forestry products; live animals; fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, natural plants and flowers; foodstuffs for animals; malt; food and beverages for animals.
Class 32: Beers; mineral and aerated waters; non-alcoholic drinks; fruit drinks and fruit juices; syrups for making beverages; shandy, de-alcoholised drinks, non-alcoholic beers and wines.
Class 33: Alcoholic wines; spirits and liqueurs; alcopops; alcoholic cocktails.
Class 34: Tobacco; smokers’ articles; matches; lighters for smokers.
Class 35: Advertising; business management; business administration; office functions; electronic data storage; organisation, operation and supervision of loyalty and incentive schemes; advertising services provided via the Internet; production of television and radio advertisements; accountancy; auctioneering; trade fairs; opinion polling; data processing; provision of business information; retail services connected with the sale of goods.
Class 36: Insurance; financial services; real estate agency services; building society services; banking; stockbroking; financial services provided via the Internet; issuing of tokens of value in relation to bonus and loyalty schemes; provision of financial information.
Class 37: Building construction; repair; installation services; installation, maintenance and repair of computer hardware; painting and decorating; cleaning services.
Class 38: Telecommunications services; chat room services; portal services; e-mail services; providing user access to the Internet; radio and television broadcasting.
Class 39: Transport; packaging and storage of goods; travel arrangement; distribution of electricity; travel information; provision of car parking facilities.
Class 40: Treatment of materials; development, duplicating and printing of photographs; generation of electricity.
Class 41: Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities.
Class 42: Scientific and technological services and research and design relating thereto; industrial analysis and research services; design and development of computer hardware and software; computer programming; installation, maintenance and repair of computer software; computer consultancy services; design, drawing and commissioned writing for the compilation of websites; creating, maintaining and hosting the websites of others; design services.
Class 43: Services for providing food and drink; temporary accommodation; restaurant, bar and catering services; provision of holiday accommodation; booking and reservation services for restaurants and holiday accommodation; retirement home services; creche services.
Class 44: Medical services; veterinary services; hygienic and beauty care for human beings or animals; agriculture, horticulture and forestry services; dentistry services; medical analysis for the diagnosis and treatment of persons; pharmacy advice; garden design services.
Class 45: Legal services; conveyancing services; security services for the protection of property and individuals; social work services; consultancy services relating to health and safety; consultancy services relating to personal appearance; provision of personal tarot readings; dating services; funeral services and undertaking services; fire-fighting services; detective agency services.
Take Notice that if a trademark is registered in a foreign country who is a member of a Convention to which Nigeria is also a member, the applicant in the foreign country shall have priority over other applicants to register the mark in Nigeria, provided the trademark is registered in Nigeria within 6 months from the date of registration in the foreign country. However, if in the course of registration of the trademark in Nigeria, it is discovered that another company has already registered the trademark or any mark or name close to it , the subsequent applicant may apply to the Trademark Registrar or institute an action at the Trademark Tribunal for the mark to be struck out in the name of that company and registered in the name of the subsequent applicant on the grounds that the subsequent applicant has long transacted business with the mark and is known all over the world by the mark.
How long does the process take?
- Acknowledgment letter – 24 hours from submission
- Acceptance Letter: 4-6 weeks from submission
- Publication in Trademark Journal: 32 weeks from Acceptance Letter stage
- Grant of Certificate: 12 weeks from publication
In conclusion, a Trademark in Nigeria may be registered either plainly (black and white) or in colour. However, where a trademark is registered in colour, the protection afforded is limited to the colour(s) registered. On the other hand, a plain (black and white) registration affords protection to all colours of presentation of the trademark.
What the next step?
If you would like to register a Trademark in Nigeria, you may find out more by contacting us.