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Experts call for review of Nigeria’s intellectual property laws

By Innocent Anaba

Experts across technology and law firms within and outside the country have called on concerned authorities to review Nigeria’s out-dated Intellectual Property, IP laws, so as to attract investment opportunities in the technology sector and other sectors across the country.

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This call is coming at a time when technology has continued to disrupt ways organisations operate, resulting in innovations that will need to be protected by the law for them to thrive and remain sustainable.

Speaking at the 2nd Annual Business Series of Duale, Ovia & Alex-Adedipe, a fast-growing full-service commercial law firm in Nigeria, Adeleke Alex Adedipe, a partner at the law firm said one of the things that they will continue to do is to reach out to the appropriate authorities, such as the Ministry of Commerce, amongst others, on how to update the out-dated Intellectual property law in Nigeria, especially as it concerns trade mark.

“Why does it take such a long time to register a trade mark? It is a problem and we write opinion to clients all the time about time line to register IP. In a country that is trying to drive investment and trade, we shouldn’t have such impediments in our laws. These are conversations and takeaways from this business series and things that will be sent across to appropriate authorities to help organisations,” Adedipe said.

Speaking during the panel session, Kenneth Obiajulu, Co-founder and Managing Director of FarmGate Africa, said IP issues are quite sensitive in Nigeria and not at the level it ought to be.

Obiajulu said waiting for the current regulatory framework to protect you as an investor may not work, adding that it was important for Nigeria to build the regulatory framework it desires.

Speaking during the panel session, Kenneth Muhangi, Partner, KTA Advocate, noted that intellectual property should be looked at broadly, as several countries were investing in technology, which is changing things.

For Muhangi, engaging regulators is also key to ensuring the required IP laws are enacted.

Adeniyi Duale, Managing Partner, Duale, Ovia & Alex-Adedipe said that no investor will put his money in a business with risks associated with not having strong intellectual property right or trade mark, hence the need to have legal framework that can protect innovations, especially as it concerns technology.

He raised concerns on the need for government to understand issues relating to the tech sector, so as to take the right approach.

In his keynote address, Uzoma Dozie, former CEO, Diamond Bank, said Diamond Bank used new technological services to attract wide range of customers.

“We invested in equipment, expertise and education. We turned Diamond Bank from a paper to a paperless organisation. We became more mobile and agile. Technological tools as artificial intelligence can be leveraged on to provide exceptional services,” he added.

 

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