July 5, 2013 — It is often said, although equally challenged, that patents measure a country’s inventive activity and that the total number of patents produced by a country is an indicator of it’s capacity to exploit knowledge and convert it into potential economic gains. While one major challenge to assessing Nigeria’s patent growth statistics has been the lack of current information about the number of application filed and registered at the Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry in Nigeria, the filing of a patent application at the Registry is not an uncommon action as many tend to believe.
Between 1998 and 2007, for example, a total of 4,823 patents were filed in Nigeria. While this number may not appear significant when compared to the number of patents filed both nationally and internationally by countries such as China and the United States, the significance lies in the fact that out of the 4,823 patents filed in Nigeria, 4,257 representing approximately 88.26% of the applications were filed by large companies from advanced countries. The remaining 566, representing only 11.73% were filed by local (Nigerian-based) applicants.
While no one wants Nigeria to become a country that files numerous patents that remain inactive, the disparity between local and foreign patents raises concern especially if one relies on the assumption that there is a correlation between the increase in R&D, the grants of patents and innovation.
This article is intended to provide general information about the subject matter. Professional legal advice should be sought about specific circumstances.