Increase in trademark filings as global brands flock to the country

Nigeria

Nigeria has recently witnessed a remarkable increase in business activities and, in particular, an influx of global brands in the retail landscape.

Historically, the oil and gas industry had been the prominent driving force of the Nigerian economy, with a maximum crude oil production of 2.5 million barrels per day. Today, the luxury consumer market has gradually grown into a significant economic force that must be reckoned with.

Analysts have indicated that the Nigerian retail market is untapped and that the increase in wealth of the Nigerian middle class is directly proportionate to the growth in the luxury/well-known brand market. As a result, a number of flagship stores, such as Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Mac and Ermenegildo Zegna, have opened for business in Nigeria.

The rise of this industry has not only affected the Nigerian economy positively but also, by implication, the Nigerian IP world. There has been an increase, particularly, in trademark filings in Nigeria, as proprietors interested in doing business in the country are constantly engaging the services of local agents to file trademark applications for their brands at the Nigerian Trademarks Registry.

Interestingly, some of these global brands which have yet to begin business in Nigeria - and may not consider starting operations for a number of years - have chosen to protect their brands in Nigeria regardless of whether they are currently in use, after realising that the purchasing decisions of consumers are affected by trademarks. A cursory in-house search of the last two Nigerian Trademark Journals (August 14 2014 Vol 1 No 2 and September 10 2013 Vol 2 No 2) reveals that there have been numerous trademark filings in the name of well-known global retail outfits.

There is thus a sustained growth in Nigeria driven by an improved performance of the luxury industry. It is foreseen that there will an increase in trademark filings in Nigeria, with contemporaneous implications for commercial intellectual property.

Odunayo Ayorinde, Jackson Etti & Edu, Lagos

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