The Patents Registry, Commercial Law Department, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment administers the protection of Patents in Nigeria. The relevant legislation governing the registration of Patents is the Patents and Designs Act 1971.
- Nigeria is a member of the Paris Convention.
- Nigeria is a signatory to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), signed in 2003 and instrument deposited to the WIPO office in 2005. PCT national phase filings are recognized and accepted by the local Patents and Trademarks Office (PTO).
- Under the local Patents and Designs Act, patents cannot be obtained in respect of plant or animal varieties, biological processes for the production of plants or animals (other than microbiological processes and their products) and principles and discoveries of a scientific nature.
- There are currently two platforms for filing patent applications in Nigeria namely the MANUAL and ONLINE filing systems.
- Only accredited agents/individuals/companies can attend to the registration of patents on behalf of inventors.
- There is no qualified Examiner at the local Patent Office. WIPO has been assisting the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion to develop a patent desk for the examination of local inventions.
- Notarization or Consular Legalization of documents is not required.
- A patent application shall relate to only one invention, but may include or have in connection with that invention claims for any number of products, manufacturing processes for those products or applications of those products or the means of working those processes.
- Applications are filed in English, where original specifications are in a different language, the ENGLISH translation also must be lodged with the PTO.
- The local Attorney/Agent receives e-mail instruction to file a patent application at the local Registry of Trade Marks, Patents and Designs along with the relevant documents - Specifications and Claims, Drawings (if any), Abstract, executed Authorization of Agent Form; Deed of Assignment; Priority Document. The Authorization of Agency form executed in favour of the local Attorney authorizes the Attorney to act for the Patent Applicant. This allows Attorney to file application and to deal with any matter connected to the invention at the Trademarks Registry and to receive all official documents on behalf of the Applicant.
- Upon filing the application, an official Letter of Acknowledgment bearing the official application number and local filing date of the application is generated immediately from the PTO’s online portal, if an online application; but where a manual application, it takes 2-3 weeks for the TM Registry to issue the same.
- At this stage, any outstanding document not filed along with the application would need to be lodged at the PTO or uploaded on the PTO’s online portal. There is a period of three (3) months within which to comply, as inability to lodge all documents within time-frame may lead to refusal of the application.
- Next, the Registrar examines the patent application as to its conformity with the requirements of the Act respecting the form of the patent application namely that it should contain the Applicant's full name and address, if address is outside Nigeria an address for service in Nigeria, description of the relevant invention with any appropriate plans and drawings, claim(s), whether application is accompanied by the prescribed fee and other requisite documents.
- Where the Registrar is satisfied that there has been compliance as to form of application, a notification of acceptance is issued and patent shall be granted as applied for without further examination. Patent applications are not subjected to substantive examination at the local PTO.
The Patents & Designs Act does not include any provision for substantive examination and there are no qualified Examiners at the local PTO. Hence, reliance is placed on priority applications in Convention countries.
- The Registrar grants a patent by issuing to the patentee a ceremonial document, viz. the Sealed Letters Patent, containing the following:
- number of the patent in the order of grant;
- name and address of the patentee;
- the dates of the patent application and the grant;
- if foreign priority is claimed, an indication of the fact
- number and date of the application on which the claim is based and the name of the country where it was made; - the description of the invention (with any relevant plans and drawings) and the claims; and
- where appropriate, the name and address of the true inventor.
- Patent confers upon the Patentee the right to preclude any other person from doing making, importing, selling or using the product, or stocking it for the purpose of sale or use; and where the patent granted is in respect of a process, it excludes all persons from the act of applying the process or doing, making, importing, selling or using a product obtained directly by means of the process,.
- A patent shall expire at the end of the twentieth (20th) year from the date of filing of the relevant patent application and it can lapse if the prescribed annual fees are not duly paid in respect of it.
- Renewal/Annuity fees fall due on the filing date. However, for PCT national phase applications, the instructive filing date is deemed to be the PCT International filing date.