Nigeria

Africa’s largest economy is a valuable consumer market for the world’s leading brands, but the Nigerian IP scene remains difficult to navigate: local practitioners lament the inefficiency of the trademark office, courts and police authorities, as well as the lack of IP jurisprudence. The Industrial Property Commission Bill, set to simplify and streamline the country’s trademark system, is eagerly anticipated by Nigeria’s lawyers. This long-awaited overhaul continues to make its way through the legislative process.

Firms

2
Allan & Ogunkeye
Aluko & Oyebode
Banwo & Ighodalo
G Elias & Co
GRF Dalley & Partners
IPI Watch Services
O Kayode & Co
Okey IP
Stillwaters Law Firm
Allan & Ogunkeye
General practice dynamo Allan & Ogunkeye has a longstanding and distinctive focus on intellectual property, which it sees from a broad commercial perspective. Steeped in the nuances of the local legal landscape, it dexterously guides foreign clients around Nigeria’s brand protection obstacles. Timothy Olubor oversees the trademark department with an eagle eye. He is au fait with all facets of the practice and is in his element when tackling infringers.
Aluko & Oyebode
Business law powerhouse Aluko & Oyebode is a major player in an assortment of legal disciplines. Intellectual property is no exception: the firm has the wherewithal to dispatch the most perplexing briefs with poise, it also knows how to get rights granted efficiently – and how to enforce them effectively. The side’s grounding in other corporate matters ensures that its practitioners understand the interconnection between branding and wider business concerns. Mark Mordi is ahead of the curve when it comes to convoluted contentious mandates.
Banwo & Ighodalo
A one-stop shop for rights holders, Banwo & Ighodalo shepherds clients through the entire trademark lifecycle, from strategic planning and registration, to commercialisation and enforcement. It is particularly recognised for its tenacious campaigning and dogged approach to the fight against fakes: the firm wholeheartedly understands what makes local police and customs authorities tick and gets forgeries off the market in record time. Pillar of the practice Femi Olubanwo is in great demand among global brands.
G Elias & Co
Adept in mergers, acquisitions, licensing and franchising, G Elias is especially valued for its IP commercialisation practice; its shrewd team has a flair for maximising the value of intangible assets and knows how they contribute to broader commercial deals. The set is divided into industry specialised groups; all practitioners have an incredible awareness of their clients’ businesses and an appreciation for their aims. Providing comprehensive brand protection, the firm also lays on gilt-edged prosecution and litigation services. As a member of the expansive Africa Legal Network, G Elias works in tandem with many of the continent’s most prestigious trademark firms on challenging cross-border briefs. With an incisive legal mind, Fred Onuobia provides assured leadership to the group.
GRF Dalley & Partners
Tried and tested defender GRF Dalley attracts a torrent of instructions from companies seeking impervious brand protection in West Africa; plugged into an impressive network of foreign associates, it is also supremely capable in continental and global mandates. Attentiveness, clear communication and flexibility are the hallmarks of its practice. These qualities are embodied by top-notch trademark counsellor and senior partner Babatunde Dalley. A Nigerian lawyer and English barrister, he has a cosmopolitan outlook and a rare talent for litigation.
IPI Watch Services
Specialised in dispensing strategic intelligence on IP protection, “vibrant practice” IPI Watch Services offers a first-rate and distinctive trademark service, helping clients to identify the pitfalls and opportunities – both legal and commercial – of brand ownership in Nigeria. Team director Bolanle Olowu keeps on top of all developments in the marketplace and in legislation, homing in on brand exploitation prospects and swooping down on infringers with equal alacrity. One foreign associate comments: “She is alert and responsive. Her end product is always fantastic.”

“Miles ahead of the rest”, Jackson, Etti & Edu is “excellent across the board in trademark work”. The only gold-tier firm in Nigeria, it combines world-class customer service with specialist expertise and extensive experience in IP law. Enforcement – through litigation, trademark office proceedings and police and customs actions – is the centrepiece of the Jackson, Etti & Edu offering: its lawyers navigate the country’s judicial, administrative and institutional labyrinth with deftness, always adopting a panoramic perspective on each case. “Excellent” portfolio manager Uwa Ohiku captains the illustrious set; the country’s only World Intellectual Property Organisation domain name panellist, she is a go-to practitioner for online matters. Fellow IP thought-leader Chinyere Okorocha is another bastion of the practice: the 25-year seasoned pro utilises admirable business acuity when handling brand rights. “Contentious sage” Obafemi Agaba is another outstanding figure. He makes his sophomore appearance in the WTR 1000 this year following effusive market praise.

O Kayode & Co
Enjoying its second outing in the WTR 1000 this year, O Kayode & Co has consolidated its position as one of the country’s elite IP firms. Having specialised in brand rights prosecution in its early years, it has now become a force to be reckoned with in contentious matters as well: upholding rights skilfully in a tough enforcement environment, the practice operates incisively before the courts and trademark office and fights tooth and nail to get results delivered swiftly. It also builds defences for its clients through the judicious use of more efficient regulatory regimes – such as in the food and drugs industries – and resolves matters amicably through nimble mediation efforts. Ancillary prowess in advertising and media law is a further string to its bow. Name partner Lara Kayode brandishes a well-rounded IP skill set and serves up holistic counsel to a slew of international patrons.
Okey IP
Abuja-based firm Okey IP has a laser focus when developing and protecting its clients’ intangible assets. Working with similar adroitness on both sides of the contentious/non-contentious schism, it stands out from its competitors for its honed abilities, tailor-made strategic counsel and cogent advocacy. Having built iron-wrought brand rights for a number of patrons, it has also litigated a number of cases through to successful verdict. Founder Okey Onyekanma is a key name for the address book.
Stillwaters Law Firm
Full-service heavyweight Stillwaters has all angles covered for trademark owners: its crack commercial law team – which has a distinctive focus on IP matters – takes superb care of trademarks all the way from the cradle to the grave. A crucial ally in heated disputes, Afamefuna Nwokedi oversees the practice with a steady hand.

Individuals

Obafemi Agaba - Jackson, Etti & Edu
G Babatunde Dalley - GRF Dalley & Partners
Lara Kayode - O Kayode & Co
Afamefuna Nwokedi - Stillwaters Law Firm
Uwa Ohiku - Jackson, Etti & Edu
Chinyere Okorocha - Jackson, Etti & Edu
Bolanle Olowu - IPI Watch Services
Femi Olubanwo - Banwo & Ighodalo
Timothy Olubor - Allan & Ogunkeye
Fred Onuobia - G Elias & Co
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Issue 73