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May 13
The Nigerian Trademarks Office: A Synopsis of 2015 to Date

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2015 was a challenging year for the IP industry in Nigeria, particularly regarding the Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry, which saw numerous changes in leadership and policies.

April 2015: The Registrar of Trademarks, Patents and Designs transferred out of office in 2015  

In April 2015, Nima Salman-Mann, who had served as Registrar from March 2012, moved to another ministry within the Federal Civil Service. Her legacies include the execution of the online filing platform as well as the introduction of the Industrial Property Automated System (IPAS) system of filing at the Registry, which replaced the old manual system. 

May 2015: Appointment of new Registrar 

In May 2015, Olusegun Adeyemi Adekunle Esq. became the new Director of the Commercial Law Department and the Acting Registrar of the Registry of Trademarks, Patents and Designs. 

Mr. Adekunle very quickly set to work, putting processes and systems in place, a move that stakeholders applauded. 

Mr. Adekunle continued to serve as the Registrar of Trademarks, Patents and Designs until October 2015, when the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria served a 21-day notice. The notice stated that the members at the Registry were planning to embark on an indefinite strike, which would have the effect of shutting down the registry completely. The major demand of the Union was that the Registry appoint the most senior Registry officer as the Registrar of Trademarks, Patents and Designs. After serving as Director/Acting Registrar for months at the registry, Mr. Adekunle was transferred to the Ministry of Water Resources Department. Mr. Adekunle graciously accepted his redeployment to Water Resources, and, as a result, the imminent strike did not happen. 

The news of his move was received with mixed feelings by stakeholders and staff of the Registry—many individuals were concerned about the effects of such changes on the Registry’s operations. 

October 2015: Chief Registrar—Mr. William Amuga 

With the exit of Mr. Adekunle, Mr. William Amuga, the most senior officer in the Registry, became the Registrar, adopting the title of Chief Registrar, Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry; this appointment was welcomed by Registry staff. 

Recent happenings at the Registry include: 

  • The introduction of TSA by the federal government and its effects on the online filing system: the Treasury Single Account (TSA) is the new payment policy initiated by the federal government and requires all revenue generated by all ministries, departments, and agencies to be paid into a single account, for sake of accountability and tracking. 
  • Limited resources as a result of the economic downturn: With the fall in oil prices, the diminishing value of the naira and several hiccups associated with the workings of the TSA affected the productivity level of the Registry as a whole. 
  • Determined efforts of Registrar: Despite the above challenges, Mr. Amuga has been persistent in his resolve to process outstanding certificates. In a recent meeting with IP stakeholders in Lagos, he pledged the following:
    • Timely publication of trademark journals,
    • The diligent and efficient administration of the IPAS and Online filing systems, and 
    • The issuance of outstanding certificates.

Conclusion

Despite the challenges and changes in leadership and economic downturn of the country, we are optimistic that the present leadership will also leave a positive legacy.


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