Frequently Asked Questions about Trademarks in Nigeria

Questions about

1. If I register a trademark in one class (for one type of goods or services) does this give me the exclusive rights to use the trademark for other goods and services?

No. By registering your trademark in a particular class, you are limited to goods or services which are identical with or similar to the goods and services for which the marks is registered. Nigerian law requires separate applications for each class of goods and services.  What this means is that while you will enjoy the exclusive right to use your trademark, a competitor may legitimately use the same name for goods or services which are not similar. For example, assuming you register the trademark ‘Closure’ only in class 5 in Nigeria for pharmaceutical products, it would be difficult to oppose a competitor who registers ‘Closure’ in class 32 for non-alcoholic drinks.

2. If I own a domain name, do I automatically acquire trademark protection? or Can I acquire trademark rights in my domain name?

Registering a domain name does not give you trademark rights. In fact, the process for registering a domain name is different from the process of applying for trademark registration in Nigeria. You can register a domain name through a domain registrar however applications for the registration of a trademark in Nigeria must be filed with the Trademarks Registry in Abuja.

3. Does registration in one country protect my rights in other countries?

No. If you intend to sell products in multiple countries, then you should consider registering your trademark in those countries. Nigeria is not a party to the Madrid System although it is a party to the Paris Convention.

4. How long does a trademark registration in Nigeria last?

A trademark is valid for seven years from the date of application but you may renew the application for the trademark for an additional period of 14 years.

5. What class should I choose?

As soon as you decide to pursue trademark registration, you need to specify the particular goods or services that you currently use or intend use the trademark with. Currently, there are 45 classes of goods and services, with classes 1 through 34 for goods, and classes 35 through 45 for services. The classes of trademarks are available on our website to help you identify your class. For example, enter “Cosmetics” in the search field, and you’ll see that “Cosmetics” is class 3; Pharmaceuticals are class 5; and non-alcoholic drinks are 32. If your mark is used on different products, you may need to file trademarks in multiple classes.

This article was originally published in NLIPW Trademarks Law Vol. 3 No. 15 of March 2, 2016. The article is intended to provide general information.

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About Ufuoma Akpotaire 123 Articles
Ufuoma is a Senior Editor and Director of Regulatory Policy at NLIPW. She assists clients in the protection of copyrights, trademarks and patents. She counsels clients regarding validity and infringement matters and has experience acting against the infringement of IP and addressing counterfeit issues. She holds a Masters degree (LL.M.) from Columbia Law School, New York and a law degree from the University of Nigeria (LL.B. Honors). She is admitted to practice law in Nigeria and in the State of New York. Ufuoma cut her teeth in the intellectual property practice groups of some of the largest law firms in Nigeria and has years of experience working with major non-profit organizations in New York. Email: uakpotaire@nlipw.com