Legal And Institutional Frameworks For The Protection Of Intellectual Property Rights In Nigeria

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

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 socio- economic 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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