Intellectual Property Rights in Nigeria


Grace is a food blogger, she creates content for her blog and spends a lot of time and effort in documenting and taking great images. She has over 250,000 followers

Grace is a food blogger, she creates content for her blog and spends a lot of time and effort in documenting and taking great images. She has over 250,000 followers across her blog and social media platforms making her attractive to brands which often employ her services to advertise their products. She recently discovered a restaurant is using her images on their website passing off her cooking as theirs. Grace has sent them an email to take down the images from their website.

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.


For the purpose of this write up, major emphasis will be on the four traditional aspect of Intellectual Property in Nigeria and they are as follows with the applicable governing laws:

  • Trademark – Trademarks Act 1965
  • Patent – Design and Patent Act 1970
  • Industrial Design – Design and Patent Act 1970
  • Copyright – Nigerian Copyright Act (Amended) 1999


A trademark is a distinctive name, sign or logo which uniquely identifies the source of goods and services. The primary aim of the Trademarks Law is to ensure that no-one uses a trademark of another which is similar or identical as to cause confusion in the course of trade in relation to the goods and / or services in which it is registered.


A patent is a right granted to anyone who invents any new and useful process or fundamentally impresses an existing process. In order to protect an invention it must be novel or essentially better in some way than what was previously made, or a better way of making it.

Industrial Design

Industrial design is the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of a useful article which may consist of the shape, pattern and / or color of the article and must appeal to the eye.

It could simply be said to be a combination of lines or colors or both and any three dimensional form.


Copyright is that aspect of the law that deals with the rights of intellectual creators in preventing unauthorized copying or reproduction of the literary or artistic works.

The principal purpose of Copyright is to protect against the appropriation of the produce of another person’s literary and artistic work or effort.

Copyright consists of exclusive rights given to the creator in the exploitation of his works; this includes painting, music, poem, architecture, computer software, maps and technical drawings.


Non-Traditional IP

The commercial aspects of intellectual property are usually referred to as the non-traditional aspects of IP, the list is not exhaustive but includes:

  • Licensing
  • Franchising
  • IP Securitization
  • Assignment

Furthermore, IP has become a fundamental consideration in the following transactions:

  • Merger and Acquisition
  • Joint ventures
  • Due Diligence

Challenges faced in Nigeria on Intellectual Property 

The growth of Intellectual property in Nigeria can not be sideline as a result of the importance derived from this aspect of law. Notwithstanding the importance and growth there are still some challenges faced in this field. These include:

  • Lack of awareness
  • Passive involvement of Government in Intellectual Property Law
  • Most innovations are not registered
  • Counterfeiting performed by Act non owners of Intellectual Property Rights 
  • Non compliance with Intellectual Property Treaties such as TRIPS, PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty). According to the provision of Section 12 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria Which states that “No Treaty between the federation and any other country shall have the face of law except to the extent to which such treaty has been enacted into law by the National assembly“.
  • Inadequate Policies by Government on Intellectual Property


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