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A patent is an exclusive monopoly rights granted for an invention. It grants the inventor a temporary but exclusive monopoly of the commercial exploitation of that invention. It gives the inventor the right to exclude other inventors from making, using, importing, or selling the claimed invention in that country without their consent, for the duration of the patent.

Patents protect new inventions and cover how things work; what they do; how they do it; what they are made of and how they are made.

Patents are granted exclusively to a patentee for a period of 20 years from the date of filing the application. The Act also provides for the expiration of a patent where the patent holder fails to pay the prescribed annual fees after a grace of six months following the year from which the fees are due as provided under Section 7 of the Patents and Design Act 1971.

The Patents Registry, Commercial Law Department of the Federal Ministry of Industry administers the protection of Patents in Nigeria. The Legislation that governs the affairs and registration of patents in Nigeria is the Patents and Design Act 1971. Patent applications are usually filed in the English Language in Nigeria.

Patents are granted for the invention of products or processes. However, for it to be patentable, the invention must meet the following requirements:

  • It must be new a new invention
  • It must have an inventive step that is not obvious to someone with knowledge and experience in the subject.
  • It must 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,
  • And the invention must not be against public policy or morality.

An invention will not enjoy exclusive patentability where it is in respect of plant or animal varieties, or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals other than microbiological processes and their products or where it involves inventions which would be contrary to public order or morality.

Patent Application

Section 3 of the Patents and Design Act provides and states that;

Every patent application shall be made to the Registrar and shall contain the following;

  • the applicant’s full name and address and if that address is outside Nigeria, an address for service in Nigeria,
  • a description of the relevant invention with any appropriate plans and drawings
  • a claim or claims, and
  • such other matter as may be prescribed

The Act also goes further to state that the application shall be accompanied by the following;

  • the prescribed fee
  • 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 and
  • if the application is made by an agent, a signed power of attorney

Procedure and Requirement for Patent Registration

Upon fulfilling the above mentioned conditions qualifying an invention for a patent registration, a formal application that contains a petition or request shall be made to the Registrar of Trademarks Patents and Designs Registry and shall contain the following information:

  • The applicant’s full name and address, and if the address is outside Nigeria, there should be an address for service within Nigeria.
  • A description of the relevant invention with any appropriate plans and drawings.
  • A claim or claims for any number of products, processes or applications.
  • The application is to be accompanied by the prescribed fees as may be determined by the Registry from time to time.
  • A declaration by the true inventor of the product supplying his name and address and requesting that he be mentioned as such in the Patent where applicable.
  • Where the application is submitted by an agent, a power of attorney authorising the donee of the power of attorney to that effect.
  • Abstract
  • Conclusion on what the society or mankind stands to gain and benefit from the field of invention.

An official letter of acknowledgement that contains the application number, the official filing date of the application is generated and issued by the Registry to the Applicant after the application has been made.

The Patent application after the acknowledgment letter has been issued will be examined by the Registrar to ensure the application conforms with the Requirement of the Act that it contains the required information as stated above.

Upon the satisfaction of the Registrar that the application conforms to the requirements of the Act, the Patent will be granted and the Patent Registrar shall issue, on behalf of the President of Nigeria, a Certificate that contains the following details:

  • Number of the patent in the order of grant
  • Name and address of the Patentee
  • The date of the Patent application and the grant
  • Number and date of the application on which the claim is based and the name of country where it was made.
  • The description of the invention with the relevant plans and drawings.

The Certificate is therefore valid for a period of 20 years from the date of issuance.

Cost of filing for Patent

The cost of filing for a Patent at the Registry depends on individual patent attorney appointed for the registration. By and large, Nigerian Patent Attorneys charge between N150, 000.00 ($420) to N250, 000 (about $700) for filing and professional fees to complete a single patent application.

However, patent being a delicate application, must be applied for by only accredited individuals or companies can register patents on behalf of inventors not rely on unaccredited middlemen, who have no knowledge of the application process. An incompetent patent application may be refused by the patent registry.

The Government agency that manages the grant of patents is the Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry, Commercial Law Department, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

In conclusion, a patent gives the patent holder the right to prevent others from using the registered invention or to choose to permit the use by other persons of such invention under agreed terms. It also gives the inventor the right to institute a legal action against anyone who infringes on the registered invention and to make a claim for damages.