When businesses open shop online, their aim (usually) is to generate enough traffic on their company websites in order to create buzz around their product or service offerings.

Case Study

ABC Consults is a new management consulting firm that opened in downtown SoHo. They have created their new website and other accompanying social media pages. Their name is now on the Internet. Their web pages is filled with their service delivery expertise in their niche area. Their team names and profiles are up across all social media platforms: G+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Quora, alongside several others which they feel would open their visibility to the outside world. However, they don’t have website traffic and would need to get more eyes on their website from potential clients who may need their services. Now, they’re looking for ways to ensure that they generate TOMA within their target audience. …


In the course of my travels and work, I have noticed one trend among those in top-level management, particularly those working in law firms: they tend to micromanage the work of their Associates.


Brands and firms/companies are devising strategies and means to protect and safeguard their Intellectual Property Assets as it relates to their businesses and how same can be exploited for commercial gain in the short and long term.
It is no news that currently, IP has become a huge topic of international discourse, with large brands like Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Louboutin coming into loggerheads over protection and ownership of IP assets which they all seek to protect for commercial exploitation in different countries where they have brand presence.
How can Nigerian Businesses Protect their Intellectual Property Assets?
The protection of IP assets depend largely on the type of industry the firm seeking protection is operating under and/or has business operations under. It is worthy to note however, that the Intellectual Property protection framework in Nigeria devolves largely around these core focus areas:
1.Copyrights
2.Trademarks
3.Patents & Designs
4.Trade Secrets
What are the Laws that Guide IP protection in Nigeria?
Nigeria, like other countries within other jurisdictions of practice, have a robust spread of laws that safeguard individuals’ and corporates’ IP assets. These laws are:
1.The Nigerian Copyright Act
2.The Trademarks Act
3.Patent & Design Act
It is worthy to note that there are differing opinions on whether Trade secrets falls within the specific specter of areas specifically provided for under applicable Nigerian extant laws.. While commentators tilt their arguments in favor of the fact that trade secrets fall within the purview contemplated as IP rights, others are of the view that this is not so and is largely a creation of trade/industry usages. To these set of commentators, trade secrets are not a part of IP law because of the fact that trade secrets defies a major IP requirement/policy: public knowledge. For something to be regarded as a trade secret, it must not be in the public knowledge. If it is in the public knowledge or becomes revealed, then it ceases to be so.
What is the framework for Trade Secrets protection?
It is worthy to note that while it is agreed that Trade Secrets is an intellectual product, it is not protectable as intellectual property because none of the Nigerian laws on ground provide for this. There is no provision under any Nigerian Law that carters to trade secret protection, so this cannot be protected under any intellectual property law within Nigeria. However, this does not mean that they cannot be protected. Employers can protect their unique work codes, product processes, secret recipes and programs, alongside any work product which is proprietary to them and which is integral to their business operations using Non-Disclosure Agreements which are intended to bind employees and work users with access to such confidential information. After all, let’s not all forget that a trade secret is just that; a “Secret” which gives a firm or company a competitive economic advantage over others operating within the same market and which will cease to be one and no longer protected as a secret once it’s been made known to the public or disclosed to competitors who can utilize such information to the detriment of the owners of same.
Can IP products get Copyright Protection?
The answer is yes. Of course. Literary works, artistic works and related works provided for under the Nigerian Copyright Act are afforded protected so long as sufficient time and effort is expended into giving the work originality and that same has been fixed into a definite medium of expression. Companies can get copyright protection for their literary work products and this can be done by the company inserting a Copyright Assignment clause in the employees’ contracts, vesting copyrights in the work of the employees on the employers. Alternatively, they can create and execute an independent copyright assignment agreement.
It’s always advisable though that these works over which the employer is taking copyright be directly related to the work the employee is doing for the employee and not on unrelated subject matter so as to avoid dicey situations in the future.
What about our Marks? Logo? Unique brand signatures?
All these can be protected using the Trademark vehicle at the Trademarks Registry, Department of Trade & Industry. Logos, marks, identifying marks and signatures, stylistic marks, and other related IP products can be offered protected under the various classes of Marks at the Registry. Firms and companies can apply to have their marks protected. It should be noted however, that this protection is limited by jurisdiction and subsequent need for registration across multiple jurisdictions may become necessary if the company is one that has business operations across different jurisdictions.
How do I go about these?
First, it is necessary to identify the Brand’s IP portfolio and products. A company can hire a competent IP Attorney to assess and audit the company’s IP products. Once done, the different IP protection vehicles offered under Nigerian Law (alternatively, this may include other jurisdictions as well) can be set in motion by a competent IP Attorney.
Why should I seek IP protection for IP products?
The reason is not far-fetched. Intellectual Property assets are top assets companies can leverage, not only for the purposes of protection, but because of the other accruing benefits likely to come from it. For example, a manufacturing company with a strong IP portfolio duly protected by Law can easily license their IP for use by similar companies who will then pay them royalties based on the terms and conditions stipulated in the IP Assignment contract between both parties.
At what point does it become necessary to start protecting IP?
From inception, companies can take appropriate steps to protect their developing IP portfolio. Even if they don’t, they can do it at later stages, but it is always advisable for firms and companies to develop their portfolio and seek relevant protection so as to preclude others from using it. Hire a competent IP Attorney, conduct your IP audit, then seek relevant protection using the necessary regulatory vehicles.
If you have a company that needs registration and protection of its IP products, then please consult an IP attorney and start immediately. Never wait for the future, for the future is NOW.
Need further info? …


5 Reasons Why you need to create a Will


Article by Kingsley Ugochukwu Ani LP


Image for post
Image for post
View of Victoria Island, Lagos, from the Falomo Bridge.

Lagos is the most popular city in Nigeria, it is the city with the highest rate of migration, and one of the fastest growing cities within the African continent. Lagos is extremely well known, popular, and the home to a diverse slew of businesses and multinational firms. This makes it to be the fastest-moving city in Nigeria and also has it featured in several lists which include:


INTRODUCTION


The Court Registries in Nigeria as Bureau De Change: Our Court Officials as Corporate Beggars and Agents of Extortion.


So many businesses and senior-level management executives complain that their employees are stealing their firms’ Intellectual Property rights and walking away with it; that these employees abscond with the batch of IP rights developed for business operations.
The complaints run the gamut of areas like software development, employer work sheets and sector-specific industry trade usages, client rolodex, trademarks (in cases where these firm trademarks and names are unregistered for maximum protection from infringement), alongside a whole plethora of other issues and areas.

About

Kingsley Ugochukwu Ani Esq.

I am an IP Attorney and writer living and working in Nigeria. When not reading, I am buried deep inside a book.

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