December 9, 2015 — Under Nigerian Law, a trademark or service mark must be published for opposition before it can be registered in the Register of Trademarks in Nigeria. The idea is for anyone who may be harmed or affected by the registration of the trademark or service mark to oppose or object to the registration.
Publication of Notice of Application
19. (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, when an application for registration of a trade mark has been accepted, whether absolutely or subject to conditions or limitations, Registrar shall, as soon as may be after acceptance, cause notice of the application as accepted to be published in the Journal; and the notice shall set out all conditions and limited subject to which the application has been accepted.
(2) In the case of an application made under section 9(1) (e) of this Act, or in any other case where it appears to him that it is expedient by reason of any exceptional circumstances to do so, the Registrar may cause notice of an application for registration of a trade mark to be published in the Journal before acceptance.
(3) Where under subsection (2) of this section, notice of such an application has been published in the Journal before acceptance, the Registrar may, if he thinks fit, cause notice of the application to be published in the Journal again when it has been accepted, but shall not be bound to do so.
Opposition of Registration
20. (1) Any person may within two months from the date of the publication under section 19 of this Act of notice of an application give notice to the Registrar of opposition to the registration.
(2) The notice shall be given in writing in the prescribed manner, and shall include a statement of the grounds of opposition.
(3) The Registrar shall send a copy of every such notice to the applicant; and within one month after the date on which the copy is received by the applicant the applicant shall send to the Registrar in the prescribed manner a counter statement of the grounds on which he relies for his application and, if he does not do so, shall be treated as having abandoned his application.
(4) If the applicant sends such a counter statement as aforesaid, the Registrar shall furnish a copy thereof to the persons giving notice of opposition, and shall, after hearing the parties, if so required, and considering the evidence, decide whether, and subject to what conditions or limitations, if any, registration is to be permitted.
(5) The Registrar may request a person giving notice of opposition or an applicant sending a counter statement after receipt of a copy of such a notice to give security for costs of the proceedings before him relating to the opposition, and in default of such security being duly given may treat the opposition or application, as the case may be, as abandoned.
The opposition must be filed within two moths of publication. The tricky part for many trademark owners is that because the Registry does not currently advertise published marks online, you may not be aware (unless you have a legal counsel on retainer or a subscribe to a trademark watching service) that a mark that is likely to cause confusion or similar to yours, has been published in the Trademarks Journal.
This article is intended to provide general information about the subject matter. Professional legal advice should be sought about specific circumstances.