BY ONAH NWOKPOKU
Information and Communication Technology, ICT experts in the country have called for a law for patenting ICT-related intellectual properties to drive monetisation in Nigeria.
The experts, Peter Akporume and Henry Afekuana both from Mobile Enterprise Nigeria, made the call in an exclusive interview with Vanguard on the challenges of IT startups in the country.
They said that apart from the challenge of obtaining Value Added Service licence as startups, patenting intellectual property as far as IT products are concerned, especially software, has remained a huge challenge as it is obvious that there are no statutory provisions to make that possible at the moment.
According to them, “Patency in Nigeria is a huge challenge. From our recent finding, it does not hold water. The only thing we have in Nigeria is copyright, you can have a situation where you can have your app that you developed from the scratch, that is your personal idea and you can’t patent it and then you see another person coming up with the same idea.
But in an organised society, even without money, you can patent a good intellectual property. But the problem is that at the moment, Nigeria only patents tangibles like drugs. There is no provision yet for intangibles, like technological applications and I think the government needs to address that.”
They argued that, “for the patent, government can put structures in place so that startups can have the opportunity to patent intellectual property. That would go a long way to solve the problem and help the local IT scene to grow.
“We want to appeal to government to come up with legislation to address that patency challenge so that when you are creating something, at least you will be confident that you are going to benefit from it.
At the moment the best protection app developers get is copyright and that is not enough since it only protects the look of your product but software is beyond that, it goes into the elements and functionality, how it works at the background. So it needs patency for real protection.”
They added that, “at the moment, a lot of tech savvy young Nigerians are coming up with great technological application ideas that if marketed would move the Nigerian economy forward but because of the challenges of starting up, 99 per cent drop the idea and then this leads to lack of innovation and growth in the local technology scene.”