Intellectual property law in Nigeria

Intellectual property is defined as the law relating to the protection of the legal rights of individuals and businesses who create music, art, books, logos, inventions, and images used in the industry. The law helps authors and inventors to be more innovative, to invest their money, energy, and intellectual skills without fear of their efforts being stolen or infringed illegally.

In this article, you will learn of Intellectual property law in Nigeria. We will explore the history of intellectual property and as it relates to Nigeria, types of Intellectual Property Law, the Nigerian Copyright Commission, rights and types of work protected by Copyright, how Copyright protects your work, neighbouring right, expiration of Copyrights and how to register a Copyright. Other areas we will cover include Patent, qualification of an invention for Patent, things you cannot Patent, how to register a Patent, Industrial Designs, and requirements to register an industrial design. Also, we will review Trademarks, attributes of trademarks that you can register, requirements to register a trademark in part A of the Act, Trademark you cannot register as stated in part B of the Act, and how to register Trademarks.

History of Intellectual property

Intellectual property law history date back to a period when there was no technology for printing. Copy right law in European Countries came about from the Government and the Church trying to regulate printers’ productions.

There were no copyright laws until the invention of the printing press by Johann Guttenberg, making books easy to get, and people copied others’ work. In 1662 in England, the Government required that a publisher register and licence books.

In 1710, the British Parliament passed a Law recognising authors’ ownership of copyright and stopped booksellers from creating a monopoly, by printing books without paying the authors.

In 1886 the Berne Copyright Convention compiled Copyright laws to make it uniform. They revised the rules in 1908, and in 1952, they promulgated the Universal Copyright Convention.

History of Intellectual property law in Nigeria

In Nigeria, the Government promulgated the Copyright Act in 1970, then in 1988, the Copyright Decree CAP.68 came. Also, in 1990, they enacted Laws of the Federation to regulate Copyright Law in Nigeria and followed it by the Copyright Amendment Act of 1992.

Finally, the fundamental law regulating Copyright in Nigeria, is the Copyrights Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

Types of Intellectual Property Law

There are three types of Intellectual property Laws in Nigeria. Namely the Copyright Act, the Patents and Designs Act, and the Trademarks Act.

Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) is the agency of Government empowered by law to supervise, manage, and enforce Copyright Laws.

Copyright law protects an author’s economic rights to earn profitably from their work and moral rights to keep their name and honour.

Copyright protects only fixed and original ideas. Under the Act, you can protect the following works. They are literary, broadcasts, musical, artistic, cinematograph films, and sound recordings.

How do Copyrights Protect your work?

Below are the ways Copyrights protect your work.

  • It stops people from creating versions of your work without permission
  • Prevents them from reproducing your work and selling it illegally
  • They cannot collect a fee from users of your work unlawfully
  • They cannot perform, play or show your work freely

Neighbouring right

A Neighbouring power is the right of those who perform with Musicians and artists. Copyright law recognizes two neighbouring rights. They are Expression of Folklore and Performance rights.

Expiration of Copyrights

Copyright is a form of the Intellectual property law in Nigeria, it expires. It is 70 years for musical, literary, or artistic works after the author dies. But, Films, photographs, and sound recordings, last 50 years from the date of first publication. Whereas Performance rights last for 50 years from the time of the first performance.

To register a copyright in Nigeria with the NCC do the following:

  1. submit a completed registration form physically to the NCC office
  2. add two copies of your work
  3. fix evidence of payment of the set fee of ₦10, 000 only to the Form
  4. Go physically to the NCC office to process the application
  5. You can equally register for Copyright online at the NCeRS portal.

Upon the submission of a work of art, the Commission receives it from the copyright owner and issues them a certificate. This certificate is proof to the general public that they have a copyright.


Patent law protects technological inventions giving the inventor monopoly over their design. A license will expire after 20 years if the holder continues to pay the renewal fees annually. If the holder of a Patent fails to pay the renewal fee, they have six months to regularize the account, failing which they will lose the Patent.

Qualification of an Invention for Patent

The condition a design must meet to receive a patent include:

  • Being a New invention, you can use for industry
  • Be an improvement upon the existing inventions.

Things you cannot patent

There are things you cannot patent like morally wrong inventions and against public order, species of plants and animals, and biological methods for making plants or animals.

How to register a patent in Nigeria

In Nigeria, you must apply to register a Patent at the Trademarks, Patents, and Designs Office with the following documents.

  1. Full name and address of the applicant and if they live abroad, their address in Nigeria
  2. suitable drawing of the invention, plans, and exact description
  3. payment of the set fee
  4. add a claim(s) and any other matter the Act requires
  5. a signed statement by inventor demanding for mention of their name in the Patent
  6. add a power of attorney with the application if an agent is processing the application

Industrial Designs

Another kind of the Intellectual property law in Nigeria is the Nigerian Patents and Designs Act that regulates industrial designs. A design either contains lines or colours or both.

Besides, the inventor hopes consumers use the design for industrial production and not only for reaching a mechanical goal. The design or drawing must be an exclusive brand that can win buyers among similar products.

For you to register your model, it must be new and meet public order and ethical conditions.

Requirements to register Industrial Design in Nigeria

In Nigeria, you must apply to register a patent at the Trademarks, Patents, and Design office with the following documents.

  • First, confirm the design meets set standards for registration and provide the sample
  • You must not publish the model before trying to register it
  • You must list the name of the applicant, their address, the title of design and the type of product you will use the model for
  • Attach a power of attorney if an agent is the one processing the application
  • Provide a certified priority document if requested
  • Pay the set fee


You can register a mark in the Trademarks, Patents and Design Registry in the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment. Trademark is known as a brand that distinguishes a business from another. When you use these marks for products or services, it will promote the brand. Also, consumers use Trademarks to differentiate the brand and identify it among others that are like it. Common examples of Trademarks are Coca Cola, Dangote, and 7 UP.

Attributes of Trademarks that you can register

The last type of Intellectual property law in Nigeria is the Trademarks Act. Trademarks Law divides the registration of Trademarks into two parts: A and B.  See the components of both parts below.

Requirements to register a Trademark in Part A of the Act

As “Part A” of the Act require, to register a Trademark, your application must have these attributes:

  • You must submit a word or logo that an applicant or a company had invented
  • the individual’s name, company, or firm must be different from the mark’s name
  • you must provide the signature of the applicant or successor in that company for registration
  • the word (s) must not show the type of goods or its quality, and it must not resemble an environmental name or last name.
  • Any other distinct mark

Trademarks you cannot register as stated in part B of the Act

Non-registrable trademarks are forbidden by law and are items your Trademarks must not be or include. For a logo to qualify for registration, it must be rare.

The conditions the marks must not have or be are:

  • Marks that are misleading or shocking, opposing to law or decency.
  • names of chemical ingredients
  • trademarks or emblems in the Nigerian Coat of Arms or other symbols of authority
  • marks that have words like copyright, red cross, Patent, and words like these
  • Trademarks that resemble each other or are alike

How to Register Trademarks in Nigeria

Below are the steps to register trademarks in Nigeria.

  1. First, carry out a Trademark search
  2. Second, the Registrar must accept the proposed mark as meeting the requirement for registration
  3. lastly, publishing of the mark in the Trademark journal

If the Trademark meets all those criteria, the Registrar will issue a trademark Certificate if nobody objects to the Trademark.


Intellectual property law in Nigeria ensures that an author, inventor, or creator of a work of art or design enjoy the benefits of their labour. For you to get Copyright, your work must be fixed and original, while for a Patent, do not publish it before registration, and a Trademark must meet the conditions in part A and B of the Act to register it.

Now that you have these facts get your intellectual property rights immediately.

Also read: Hоw tо do your business registration in Nigeria

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Victor Usifo

Victor Usifo

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and an MBA, including over two years of writing experience. A content creator for

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