In Nigeria, trademark registration is mandatory to be granted rights over a trademark, as it is a "first to file" jurisdiction. Only in some exceptional cases can an unregistered trademark be protected. The trademark applications must be filed with the Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment.
It is not necessary for a trademark to be in use in Nigeria in order for it to register. However, prior use may be useful as it can help overcome an objection raised on the grounds of lack of distinctiveness, by proving that the trademark has acquired distinctiveness.
If you register a combined trademark (which includes both word elements and figurative elements) in Nigeria, the exclusive right to use the trademark is limited to a use of the trademark in the exact configuration or way in which it was filed and registered. If you wish to use the word element of your trademark separately from the logo (or vice versa), it is recommended you register for another trademark including only the word or figurative elements you wish to use and protect separately.
Nevertheless, if a third party eventually intends to register or use a trademark for similar goods or services that includes a primary or distinct part or portion of your trademark, you will have the right to oppose the application based on confusing similarity.
Opposition actions may be filed by interested third parties against a trademark application within a period of two (2) months following its publication in the Trade Marks Journal. The probabilities of success for an opposition will vary in each case depending on the circumstances.
Although a trademark does not have to be in use in order for it to register, it must not go unused for more than five years after registration or it will become vulnerable to cancellation actions based on lack of use of the trademark.
Registered trademarks in Nigeria have an initial validity of seven (7) years from the application date and can be renewed indefinitely for further periods of fourteen (14) years. The trademark renewal can be requested as early as three (3) months before the expiration date. It can also be requested during the grace period of one (1) month after the publication of the expiration in the Trade Marks Journal, upon payment of a late renewal fee.
If you would like for the figurative or design elements of your trademark to be considered when assessing your trademark for registration in Nigeria (Trademark Search Report), contact us directly in order to determine if we may be able to offer this in this jurisdiction. In such cases, prices for service and estimated delivery times may vary.