A patent is a license that grants its owner the exclusive legal right to create, use, and sell an invention for a specific amount of time. It is an exclusive right awarded for an innovation, which is an item or a method that, generally speaking, gives a new way to accomplish something or a new technological fix for a difficulty. Because the patent holder has the only right to handle the license for a specific amount of time, it protects the protected product from unlawful duplication, use, or sale. An innovation’s method is also protected by a patent, in addition to the invention itself, which is the finished product. To ensure that the inventor has the only right to economically exploit an invention, a patent must be registered.
The Patents and Designs Act governs the proceedings of patents in Nigeria, while the Patent Rules control the practices used at the Patent Registry. According to the Act, an invention can only be patented if it is brand new, the result of creative work, and suitable for industrial application; alternatively, it must be an improvement over an existing invention that is brand new, creative work, and suitable for industrial application.
Process of Registering a Patent in Nigeria
Regardless of whether an innovation is a product or a process, the same registration process is used. An application for a patent is submitted to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment’s Registrar of Patent and Copyrights. The application includes:
- A petition or request for a patent with the applicant’s full name and address (Form 1A)
- A signed Power of Attorney authorization of agent, if the application is made by an agent (Form 2)
- A specification including a claim or claims in duplicate (Form 3)
- Plans and drawings, if any in duplicate
- A declaration by the true inventor where applicable
After receiving the application, the Registrar examines the patent application to ensure formal compliance solely. In other words, to ensure that the application complies with Act requirements. The registrar is not required by the Act to determine its patentability. This indicates that the application is approved only because it has been submitted, rather than because it satisfies the standards for patentability.
Whether or not it satisfies the conditions for novelty, creativity, and industrial usefulness, or whether the specification properly discloses the invention, will not be determined by the registrar. In other words, substantive examination is not recognized under Nigerian law. It is often up to the courts to judge whether an invention meets the criteria for patentability. The Court shall declare the issued patent void if it determines that the invention does not meet the requirements for patentability. Nigerian patents are typically granted after six months of application.
The Patent and Designs Act specifies the procedures that must be followed in order to get patent protection for an invention. It is useful to note that the right to a patent in respect of an invention is frequently vested in the first person to file, known as the Statutory Inventor, and is not always the genuine inventor. However, whether or whether he is also the statutory inventor, the actual inventor is allowed to be designated as such in the patent. Such a right is indisputable.
Duration of a patent’s validity term
A patent is valid for 20 years from the application’s filing date. Annual fees are payable after the patent has been granted and are due each year as of the filing date. Three months before the due date, the payment must be made. The annuity fee and accompanying surcharge may be paid during a grace period of six months following the due date. When a patent expires, it joins the public domain and can then be utilized by anybody without restriction.
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