Strengthening Intellectual Property Rights And Protection In Nigeria

In China, a political declaration was made at the 18th Chinese Communist Party Convention in 2013 which reinforces trade and IP in general and incorporates them into the Chinese national development plan. Prior to this, the nation adopted in June 2008 a National IP Strategy (“NIPS”) which was later, in March 2011, complemented by the 12th Five Year Plan with the objective of developing China into an innovative country. In pursuance of these objectives, major reforms of the legal and adjudicatory frameworks for IP in China have recently taken place and are still on-going. To this end, three specialized IP courts were created in 2014 in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

The progress achieved so far through China’s policy measures has enhanced significantly, the country’s clear national goal of becoming an innovation economy by 2020.

Also as reported of India in the referred European Commission’s paper, landmark improvements have been noticed in India’s IPR regime; particularly since the country joined, in 2013, the international trade mark system’s Madrid Protocol. There have been major reforms recently in the administration of IPR in India such as the introduction of a “comprehensive e-filing services, customs services’ enforcement, co-operation between various enforcement departments, improved IPR awareness amongst officials, digitalization of the operations of the Indian Patent Office, and hiring of additional patent examiners.”

These efforts have strengthened IPR protection and enforcement in India such that today, Indian police will often take enforcement action on their own initiative where there are perceived or reported cases of IPR infringement while the courts are more efficient and effective in dealing with rights-enforcement suits.

ADVOCACY FOR A NATIONAL POLICY ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Obviously, Nigeria needs to develop a national policy on IP as a matter of urgency. From the experiences of China, India and the advanced countries of the world such as the US, no nation can consciously and seamlessly develop its IP without first setting up, and vigorously propagating, a National Policy Framework that will spell out in clear terms the overall IP goal of the nation and launch time-based policy thrusts with short, medium and long term development goals.

Effectively, when put in place, the proposed Nigerian National IP Policy (“NIPP”) will define what we want to achieve with our collective national talents, cultures and technologies and will be a mirror that reflects for other countries in the international community what direction our industrial and creative industries are headed and hence, the kind of international Conventions or Treaties that Nigeria would naturally be ready to ratify.


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