Patents

A patent protects new inventions and covers how things work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made. It gives the owner the right to prevent others from making, using, importing or selling the invention without permission. Your invention must be new, have an inventive step that is not obvious to someone with knowledge and experience in the subject, be capable of being made or used in some kind of industry and not be, a scientific or mathematical discovery, theory or method, a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, a way of performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business, the presentation of information, or some computer programs, an animal or plant variety, a method of medical treatment or diagnosis, against public policy or morality.

The Patents and Designs Act of 1971 Cap. 344 is the substantive law governing affairs of patents in Nigeria, while the Patent, while the Patents Rules regulates the procedures adopted at the Patent Registry. Under section 26 Patent and Designs Act, the Jurisdiction to hear and dispose of legal proceedings under the PDA is vested in the Federal High Court and the section also provides that the provisions of the Trade Marks Act applicable to legal proceedings under the Act shall apply with necessary modifications to legal proceedings under the PDA.

Every patent application made in Nigeria shall contain a petition or request for a patent signed by the applicant or his agent and containing the applicant’s full name and address; a specification, including a claim or claims in duplicate; plans and drawings, if any, in duplicate; where appropriate, a declaration signed by the true inventor requesting that he be mentioned as such in the patent and giving his name and address; a signed power of attorney or authorization of agent if the application is made by an agent; an address for service in Nigeria if the applicant’s address is outside Nigeria; and The prescribed fee.

Where the applicant seeks to avail himself of a foreign priority in respect of an earlier application made in a country outside Nigeria, he shall append to his application a written declaration showing the date and number of the earlier application, the country in which the earlier application was made, and the name of the applicant who made the earlier application. The applicant will be expected to furnish the Registrar, not more than three months after the making of the application in the initial country with a copy of the earlier application certified correct by the Industrial Property Office (or its equivalent) in the country where the earlier application was made. The principle of Restitution in interregnum does not apply with respect to priority term in the case of a convention application.

A patent application shall relate to only one invention, but may include in connection with that invention, claims for any number of products or for any number of manufacturing processes for those products, and for any number of applications of those products. It may also include claims for any number of processes, and for the means of working those processes, for the resulting product or products and for the application of those products. Under the provisions of the PDA, the Registrar is only permitted to examine every patent application as to its conformity with certain sections of the Act, such examination being in essence formal in nature. There is no provision in the Act on the substantive examination of a patent application.

Every patent in Nigeria shall lapse at the end of the twentieth year from the date of the filing of the relevant patent application. A patent shall also lapse if the prescribed annual fees are not duly paid in respect of it, provided that a grace period of six (6) months shall be allowed for the payment of the fees; and if the fees and the prescribed surcharge are paid within that period, the patent shall continue as if the fees had been duly paid.