In 2018, there was a public reading before the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of Bill No. SB 357. The proposed bill is a Bill for an Act to repeal the Trade marks Act CAP T13 LFN 2004 and provide for a comprehensive law on Trade marks and Related Matters (SB. 357). The Bill has had its second reading and appears to be on its way to being passed into law.
Why a new law on Trade marks?
The current legislation governing the registration of trade marks is the Trade Marks Act (1965) and the Trade Marks Regulations (1967), enacted over 50 years ago. The current legislation is unable to deal with trade marks issues in the 21st century and meet the contemporary needs of local and foreign owners of trade marks in Nigeria especially regarding the protection of their intellectual property rights. To this end, a comprehensive overhaul of the Trade marks Act and the entire IP law regime in Nigeria is contemplated.
The current Trade marks Act of Nigeria is fashioned after the UK Trade marks Act of 1938 which has itself for many decades been repealed to bring it to speed with current realities respecting global trade mark practices.
Nigeria, being a prime investment destination, needs to create an enabling business environment for foreign investments. Effective trade mark laws are essential to building a vibrant economy and attracting foreign investments.
The following are highlights of some of the changes in the Bill contrasted with the current trade mark principles and practices applicable in Nigeria under the existing TM laws:
Overall, the provisions in the Bill are laudable as they nearly reflect the current trends in Trade marks practice and expunge certain otherwise redundant provisions in the current Act. By the provisions of the Bill, the rights of local and foreign Trade mark Proprietors have been expanded and there are more effective mechanisms for the protection of the same. The Bill which seeks to protect foreign trade mark rights in Nigeria has huge implications for the
Nigerian economy as this would boost foreign investments in Nigeria. It is our hope that the broader enforcement mechanisms contemplated by the Bill will be enforced in practice.