Re-submission of Revamped Nigerian IPCom Bill likely to happen before the end of the year.
The Intellectual Property Lawyers Association of Nigeria (IPLAN) and other stakeholders have been working on presenting a revamped Industrial Property Commission (IPCOM) bill to the Nigerian National Assembly. The IPCOM bill seeks to harmonize all the current IP laws and bodies by establishing single law and body for the administration of trade marks, copyright, patents and designs in Nigeria among other improvements.
The IPCOM bill is an attempt to bring Nigerian IP practice into the 21st century as
it is the considered opinion of IP practitioners in Nigeria that the current laws that govern intellectual property law in Nigeria are archaic. This is especially in view of the recent developments in global IP practice, for instance, the current Trade mark Act was enacted in 1965 and is essentially a copy of the English law in force during that period.
Not satisfied with previous iterations of the bill, stakeholders have recently come together to amend its various sections. The amendments seek to further and more succinctly address the many deficiencies of the current trade mark law such as the lack of expertise in the judiciary to professionally handle and decide IP disputes, the lack of provisions for the recognition of well-known trademarks, the absence of anti-counterfeiting provisions and the lack of a time limit on the maximum time allowable for a application to proceed to registration. This last issue if addressed would compel the registrar to actively clear the application backlogs currently experienced.
Further amendments that are currently being considered are towards extension of registration term (first renewal period) from 7 years to 10 years and reduction of renewal term (second and following renewals thereafter) from 14 years to 10 years, introduction of unfair competition provisions as well as expanding the definition of infringement to include cyber-squatting.
Those following IP developments in Nigeria will note that this is not be the first time that the bill has been presented to parliament. The IPCOM bill was reviewed and passed by the previous Assembly and was awaiting presidential assent but was ultimately not signed into law before the former President, Goodluck Jonathan left office. Consequently, and in accordance with legislative rules and procedure, in order to get the bill promulgated, it must bill must be re-introduced to the national assembly and pass through all the legislative stages as if it is a fresh bill.
A major deterrent to any person interested in reintroducing a bill to parliament is the length of time that a bill generally takes to pass through the house. For example it took about seven years, in the twilight of the last assembly, for the previous bill to be passed.
Through the tenacity of the IPLAN, renewed interest in the bill by high level stakeholders and a recent amendment of the house rules that now guarantees accelerated hearing for a re-introduced bill, it is likely that the bill may be reintroduced to parliament before the end of the year and diligently prosecuted and passed in the term of the current assembly.
We at Rouse Africa believe that importance of this bill cannot be discounted as it would be a giant leap forward for Nigerian intellectual property practice and set it at par with internationally accepted standards.
For more information on the bill or Nigerian IP registration kindly contact Carole Theuri