ANALYSIS OF THE LEGAL AND INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORKS FOR THE PROTECTION OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS IN NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

The subject of intellectual property rights without doubt, has attained considerable universal prominence, especially in its ever growing significance to the core values of human enterprises. In today’s world, the subject of intellectual property rights is so central and dynamic that it is the concern of many disciplines of law, technology, economics, health, culture, agriculture, environment, international relations, politics and more. Intellectual property has problems with political and socioeconomic contents, for example, piracy, counterfeits and imitation. This is as a result of advancement in technology touching on internet, digitalization through compact discs, industrial photocopiers and scanners. There are various numeric legal provisions, for example, Copyright Act, Trademark Act, Patent and Design Act which are supposed to deal with these problems. But because of the ever-changing development in science and technology, the laws are always behind developments or the enforcement mechanisms are weak. Also there are institutional frameworks such as the Nigerian Copyright Commission, the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, the Customs and Excise, the Federal High Court, the Nigeria Police and so forth for the administration and enforcement of intellectual property in Nigeria. At the international plane such as Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and Trade Related Aspect of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) there are laws and conventions prohibiting offences touching intellectual property. Despite these legal and institutional frameworks, piracy of copyrighted materials, counterfeit or imitation of patented products still go on unabated in this country. That is, offences bordering on intellectual property such as piracy, imitation and counterfeiting are on the increase. Without legal and institutional protection, it is doubtful if any reasonable person would dissipate energy into creating intellectual property. This dissertation examined the legal and institutional frameworks for protection of intellectual property rights in Nigeria, with the view to ascertaining their efficacy or otherwise for the protection of intellectual property rights. The need for the protection of intellectual property rights cannot be over-emphasized. Both legal and institutional protections accorded to various species of intellectual property do not only encourage the owners of such rights to engage their creative intellect in more creativity for the utility of the society, but it also serves as an incentive to others that have creative minds to put their creative intellects into uses too. In analyzing the laws and institutions doctrinal approach was used. The researcher visited some of the institutions for the enforcement of intellectual property rights, such as Nigerian Copyright Commission, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, Trademarks and Patent and Design Registry for first hand information on the subject matter. Information was also obtained through the institutions’ websites and other relevant sites on the internet. The works of other writers were also consulted.
Laws such as Copyright Act, Trademark Act, Case laws, for example, decisions of superior courts of records where relevant were used. The research found that there are some deficiencies in enforcement mechanism of institutional frameworks, for example, lack of unity of command of different agencies, for example, the Police, Copyright inspectors, Custom and Excise share failure in protecting intellectual property rights. It was further found that there are several similarities in powers and functions of agencies which create confusion, for instance the role of copyright inspectors and police in respect of copyright matters. Also noted was that trademarks, patent and design do not have enforcement institutional framework like Nigerian Copyright Commission for Copyright. Another finding was the lack of expertise of personnel, inadequate manpower, facilities for operation and poor funding of the institutions. It was recommended that by improving the legal regime, enforcing the existing laws and increasing public awareness, the government in concert with relevant public and private sectors can make significant contributions in realizing its goal of protecting intellectual property rights in Nigeria. On the institutional cooperation it is recommended that the relevant agencies of government should build stronger cooperation and coordination for effective monitoring and enforcement of intellectual property rights.

 

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