Patent is very similar to trademark and is an intellectual property also. Just like people register their trademark to protect their business name(s), they also register a patent to protect their (business) invention(s). Patent registration is to an inventor what business trademark registration is to a business concern.
Patent is the power an individual has over his invention. It is that power that gives him/her the ability to prevent others from using or selling his/her invention without permission, or hijacking an invention within a given timeframe. Registration of patents is very important because it encourages unique inventions to be made and used by the society for the good of all.
The Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry commercial law department is responsible for patent registration in Nigeria. One problem people encounter sometimes in registering of patents in Nigeria is that their inventions do not have good qualities that could captivate the registrar’s attention and make the patent easier to get and register. A good invention should have these following qualities:
The invention/Innovation has to be new, original and usable by the society and not necessarily some kind of experiment.
For example, an educational or scientific experiment which is not considered fit for use by the society cannot be patented. A patent should be something that can positively impact the lives of people and make day-to-day activities of humans easier. This is to ensure that applicants for patents do not occupy the space of something else that may be useful to people by registering patents that may never be used. This information can be of great importance to a patent applicant. Something innovative and interesting can be a motivating factor to the registrar and make him/her excited enough to help in registering the patent in time.
As in Trademark registration, Patents must be registered quickly because it is a kind of registrations that operates on a first come, first served basis. The registration must be done as quickly as possible because if another person get to register the invention first or maybe something similar, this could lead to conflict. The truth is that most times the first applicant would have the upper hand being the one who brought the idea to the fore first. The innovator’s innovation or an inventor’s invention is not legally protected without appropriate registration with the patent office.
The Patent should be able to solve difficult problems in a clever and original way.
Only things that can make the society a better place should be paid patenting attention to as there are a lot of inventions/innovations that are of no use to either the inventor or people. The relevancy of the invention/innovation is normally checked while registering a patent and can cause the application to be waved aside (i.e., discarded) if it fails to meet the relevancy criterion.
The patent should contain a quality description of the invention/innovation.
Quality patents should be clearly written and kept simple for the reader to understand easily what the invention/innovation is about. However, concrete details of the patent should be laid out for full understanding of what it is about.
The drawings should show the main components of the invention/innovation.
Now that you know what a quality patent looks like or in other words what makes an invention/innovation patentable, the next is to know how to apply for it and register the patent on time.
Requirements to Register A Patent In Nigeria:
First you have to provide some documents to file an application for a patent and they are as follows:
- A request for a patent containing your details, name and address.
- You should include the Plans and drawings of the patent if there is anything like that. This should be in duplicate or photocopy.
- If the application is done by proxy such as in the situation where an agent is applying for patency on behalf of the inventor/innovator, a legal practitioner’s authorization note should be provided.
- In the case where the applicant is outside Nigeria, he should provide an address in Nigeria where he can be located/contacted.
- The application upon completion should be kept at the Trademark, Patent and Design Registry where all documents will be verified to ensure accuracy.
Applications not in line with the standard requirements may be rejected.
Upon filling an application following due process and providing all the necessary documents/details, an official letter of acknowledgement bearing the official application number and local filling date of the application is generated from the registration portal that is if the registration was done online.
But in the case where the application was done manually, it may take up to 3 weeks for the registrar to issue the letter of acknowledgement. At this point, the application is examined by the registrar who after approving the application, sends a notification of acceptance to the inventor/innovator and soon the patent is granted.
A patent in Nigeria is valid for twenty years from the date of its registration.
As you have seen, the procedures to register patent in Nigeria are very easy to follow and the fees payable are not too expensive. It is better to pay to have your work and innovation legally protected than to pay to get it back after it has been stolen. This is both time wasting and resource wasting.