The Trademarks Registry, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has begun digitisation of its processes to improve trademarks activities and tackle quacks in the sector.
Mr Adamu Yauri, Registrar, Trademarks Registry, Commercial Law Department of the Ministry disclosed in Abuja while speaking with newsmen at a two-day training for examiners in the trademarks registry.
The training which targets 100 examiners was organised by the International Trademarks Association (INTA) in collaboration with the registry.
The registry under the ministry is saddled with the responsibility of registration, administration and protection of trademarks rights in Nigeria.
Yauri said that tackling quacks in the sector was one of the key areas which the minister was passionate about, adding that the permanent secretary had been consistently drawing the departments attention to the menace.
“In order to address this issue, we have started a complete digitisation of our process, once we are digitised, we will come out with a register of registered trademarks agents.
“If you are not registered, it means that there is no proof on your educational background, details of business including telephone numbers and email for contact and you can no longer do business with the registry.
“We are addressing the issue, we are also creating a website where we will list all the services we render and the amount one is supposed to pay so that it will be opened to the public and nobody will be short changed,” he said.
Speaking on the need for sensitisation on its activities, he said it would celebrate World Intellectual Property Day on April 26.
According to the him, Tthe idea is to make it public involving stakeholders and media to create awareness.
“The importance of trademarks is that it gives a consumer the right of choice, it is through trademark that you recognise the products you will buy in the market.
“It is through the instrumentality of the intellectual property covered by trademark that you identify a particular product you will purchase.
“Beyond that, the ministry has now made it a point of duty on each of its activities to mainstream the function of the registry in its activities.
”We intend as a separate project to start campaigning round the country on the importance of trademark,’’ he said.
The registrar further explained that consumers recognised a product in the market through branding to enable them to make repeated purchase.
According to him, if a brand is not protected it is likely to be abused or copied. It is likely for somebody to take advantage of it without authority because it is not registered.
He noted that there were sanctions for violators, adding that the trademarks act provided certain claims for damages in case of abuse.
The registrar also said that the court may order confiscation of goods of offending party and account for profit from the benefit that had been drawn from the use or sale of such offending act.
The legal practitioner expressed gratitude to INTA for its assistance in training examiners, adding that it was the second time the registry was benefiting from INTA’s capacity building programme.
According to him, examination is the centre of trademarks registration and it is necessary for examiners to possess the required skills to aid them in making decisions on the registrability of a proposed trademark.
The examiners were drawn from different agencies of government, including Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Nigeria Bar Association (NBA).
Participants were also drawn from Nigeria Copyrights Commission and specialised intellectual property organisations, among others.
Mr Tat-Tieme Louembe, INTA, Africa and Middle East Representatives said Nigeria was its key jurisdiction, adding that it would increase its collaboration with the registry to align it with international standard.
According to him, it will continue to provide capacity building training and support to enhance the examiners and the activities of the trademarks registry.
“We are trying to ensure that the examiners handle the applications for trademarks with clear guidelines, making sure that the registration is properly done, avoiding duplication.
“The trademarks office helps the country to move towards full economic diversification, creation of jobs among others, it is a game changer.”