In Nigeria, the Patent and Designs Act (PDA) of 1971 Cap 344 of the laws of the Federation of Nigeria is the substantive law governing Industrial Designs in Nigeria. By the provisions of the PDA, (1) any combination of lines or any combination of colours, or (2) the combination of both lines and colours, or (3) any three-dimensional form, whether or not associated with colours is an industrial design . To constitute an industrial design it must be intended by the creator to be used as a model or pattern to be multiplied by industrial process and it must not be intended solely to obtain a technical result.
In Nigeria, an application for the registration of an industrial design is lodged as either a textile or non textile design.
An application for the registration of an industrial design shall be made to the registrar of patent and design and shall include the following:
- A request for the registration of the design;
- The applicant’s full name and address and if that address is outside Nigeria, an address for service in Nigeria;
- A specimen of the design or a photographic or graphic representation of the design with any printing block or other means of reproduction from which the representation was derived;
- An indication of the kind of product for which the design will be used;
- Statement of Novelty of the design;
- A Power of Attorney/Authorization of agent where the application is submitted by an agent;
- Where the applicant seeks foreign priority in respect of an application made in a country other than in Nigeria (i.e. a convention application), then such application must have a written declaration showing the date, number, country and the name of the person who made the earlier application. If unavailable at the time of application, the applicant shall within 3 months of application, furnish the registry with a certified copy of the earlier (foreign) application
- Upon receiving the application, a filing receipt and form is issued acknowledging receipt of the design application;
- The application is examined to ensure its conformity with the documentary requirements stipulated in the Act and to ensure that the design is not contrary to public order or morality;
- Where an Application satisfies the documentary requirements, an Acceptance Notice would be issued in favour of the Applicant. Where the application however fails to conform to the prescribed requirements, the Registrar will reject the application;
- Following the acceptance, the registration certificate is issued.
Duration of a registered design
The term of a registered industrial design is five (5) years from the date of the application of the registration. Subject to the payment of the renewal fees, it may be renewed for two further consecutive periods of five (5) years.
Rights conferred by registration
The registration of a design confers on the registered owner the right to preclude any other person from doing any of the following acts:
- reproducing the design in the manufacture of a product;
- importing, selling or utilizing for commercial purpose a product reproducing the design.
- holding such a product for the purpose of selling it or utilizing it for commercial purposes.
However, the above rights apply to acts done for commercial or industrial purposes and shall not extend to acts done in respect of a product incorporating a registered design after the product has been lawfully sold in Nigeria.
Nullity of Registration
Any person including a public officer may apply to the court to declare the registration of an industrial design to be null and void if:
- If the design should not have been registered and was contrary to public order and morality;
- If the design was not new as at the date the design application was filed at the registry;
- If the applicant was not the creator of the design at the time of registering the design.
Assignment of Rights
A person’s right in a registered design may be assigned to a third party. However, such assignment or transfer must be registered in the Patent and Design registry to be effective.
Infringement of Rights
The right of a design owner is infringed if another person without the licence of the design owner does any act which the said person is precluded from doing by the provisions of the Patent and Design Act. An infringement of the rights of a design owner is actionable at the instance of the design owner who shall be entitled to relief by way of damages, injunction or accounts for profit. The Federal High Court has the jurisdiction to hear and dispose of legal proceedings under the Patent and Design Act.
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