Questions on Trademark Law in Nigeria

FAQ
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Does trademark law in Nigeria prevent me from using my school’s name on T-shirts, Hoodies, Baseball Caps and other product I have created for sale?

In most cases, your school’s name would have been registered as a trademark or a service mark, which is legally identical to a trademark. In other to use your school’s name on T-shirts, Hoodies, Baseball Caps and other products which you have created for sale, you would need permission from your school.  Your best bet will be to obtain written permission from your school authorizing you to use it’s name on the products.

I recently found out that another company is using my company’s name but in a different line of business. Is this Trademark Infringement?

The general rule is that this is not trademark infringement. This is because trademarks do not generally infringe one another if the underlying goods or services of the two companies do not compete and are not distributed in the same line of business. For example, if your company’s trademark is registered in Class 5 for Pharmaceuticals and the other company is registered in Class 15 for musical instruments, it is unlikely that consumers will mistake the two companies as being one and the same especially as they are distributed within the same trade channels. This simply means that there is no likelihood of confusion and as such the same company name can be used by the two companies.

There are however exceptions to this general rule. For example, if your company’s trademark is registered in Class 29 for Meats and the other company’s trademark is registered in Class 30 for Spices, even though these are two separate classes, there is the likelihood of confusion. The same exception will apply if one company is registered in Class 39 for Travel Arrangement and the other in Class 43 for Temporary Accommodation.

There are also cases where the compared goods and/or services are not identical but are likely to cause confusion. In such cases,  it may amount to trademark infringement if you can prove that the goods and/or services although not identical are related in some manner and/or if the circumstances surrounding their marketing are such that they could give rise to the mistaken belief that the goods and/or services emanate from the same source.

Can I register a URL that’s a twist on a famous corporate name? For example, a URL that’s a twist on Coca-Cola, Google, Facebook etc.?

The question you should ask yourself is whether the domain name you chose will confuse consumers of the famous corporate name or if it is similar to that name. If it is, then you’ll most likely have to give it up because you will either be diluting the famous corporate name, confusing consumers as to the source or your could be accused of cybersquatting.

This article was originally published on July 31, 2016. The article is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. For more information on registering trademarks in Nigeria, please email trademarks@nlipw.com

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About Ufuoma Akpotaire 311 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