Firstly, let us begin with what a patent is. A patent is an exclusive right granted for an innovation, which could be a product or a process that provides a novel way(s) of doing something or offers a new technical solution to a problem.
A patent grants the inventor a temporary but exclusive monopoly of the commercial use of an invention. This means that the inventor has the sole right to make a profit from the idea. This also means that every other person does not have the right to make, use, or sell the patented idea in Nigeria without the consent of the inventor for the set duration of the patent. The rights to a patent are vested in the “Statutory Inventor” that is the first person to file and register the patent owns the patent. In Nigeria, the primary law that governs the grant of patents is the Patents and Designs Act. The Government agency that manages the grant of patents is the Registrar of patent, trademark, and industrial design, which is under the Federal Ministry of Commerce. Applications are made to the Registrar of Patents and Copyrights. The Nigerian law on patent is governed by the Patents and Design Acts Cap. 344 of the law of the Federation of Nigeria 1990(Act of 1970).
How to Patent an Idea in Nigeria
Why should you patent an idea?
An inventor should patent an idea if he or she wants to make sure that s(he) has exclusive rights to make money off the product.
How much does a Patent Cost?
It is highly recommended that you hire the services of a online patent lawyer when you want to register a patent in Nigeria. Prices then might vary depending on the charges of the lawyer.
How to know if your idea is eligible to be patented
You must know that not all innovations are eligible or valid to be patented. The law provides that a patent may be granted for an idea or invention only if it satisfies the criteria set out in Patents and Design Acts Cap. 344, which are:
- The invention must be new: This requires that the idea or invention for which a patent is being sought must be new. Newness means if the idea stems from an innovative activity which has not been publicly disclosed or known prior to the date on which the patent is applied. When an idea has been put to use or published (in whatever form), the idea is no longer new since it has been earlier anticipated. The patent might be invalidated on this account. However, if the prior use of the idea prior to the date on which the patent was applied was solely experimental or done in secret, its newness may still be valid.
- This idea to be patented must involve an inventive step that is not obvious: This means that the idea must constitute an improvement on an already patented invention. The extent to which this is measured is the difference between the idea that is previously known and the new idea the inventor claims to have formulated. It is required that it be seen that the inventor has duly exercised his inventive faculty in such a way that will be considered truly original to justify the grant of the patent.
- The idea must be capable of industrial application i.e. useful
- The idea must not be against public policy or morality. Inventions which may encourage immoral and offensive behavior will not be patented.
- Application for patent for an idea dates only to one invention but cover claims for any number of products or processes involved.
How to Patent an idea in Nigeria
When you want to make a patent application in Nigeria, the first step is to ensure the invention has not already been patented. You can do this by conducting a search. Whether the idea on which the patent is sought is a product or process, the same registration procedure is required. Application for the grant of a patent is made to the registrar of Patent and Industrial designs which is under the Federal Ministry of Commerce, Abuja. The application consists of:
- Claim or Claims and specification: claim specifically states the new and inventive product or process sought to be protected
- A declaration by the true inventor requesting that he or she be mentioned as such in the Patent with his name and address
- A signed power of attorney or authorization of agent (if the application is made by an agent), authorizing your Attorney to register the patent
- A copy of the patent specification in English
- A certified copy of the priority document
- The prescribed fee
- A copy of the Deed of Assignment: This is where the invention has been assigned by the true inventor.
Once the application has been examined and satisfies the statutory requirements as to the completion of the application form, payment of appropriate fees and dating to only one invention, the Registrar is likely to grant the patent
If the result of the search shows that this idea has been patented, then the application for a patent will go thus:
- A petition or request is made for a patent signed by the applicant or his agent. The petition must contain the applicant’s full name and address;
- Claim or Claims and specification which specify the process or product sought to be protected
- A declaration signed by the true inventor requesting that (s)he be mentioned as such in the patent. It must also include the name and address of the true inventor
- Must include a signed power of attorney or authorization of agent (if the application is made by an agent)
- If the true inventor is outside Nigeria, it must include the address for service in Nigeria
- Payment of the prescribed fee.
According to the Nigerian patent law, if an application for a patent is made in Nigeria within 12 months of the making of an earlier application in a foreign country, such application will be treated as having been made on the same date the foreign application was made. If an applicant is seeking priority to his application for a patent, he or she must submit a written declaration showing:
- The date and the number of the earlier application:
- The country in which such application was made
- The name of the person who made it.