New bumper issue of Trademarks Journal released
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The Nigerian Trademark and Patent Registry has released a new issue of the Trademarks Journal (June 6 2008). This issue is the first to be published this year.
The Nigerian Trademarks Act provides for a two-month period within which all third-party oppositions to the registration of advertised marks must be filed. The deadline in relation to the current issue of the Trademarks Journal is thus August 6 2008; this period is non-extendable.
The new issue, which is 540 pages long, is the largest volume to be published by the registry in recent years. It does not include the specification of the goods and services covered by the trademarks, which is expected to generate a lot of debate and controversy in the coming weeks. Moreover, it is questionable whether the omission of such vital information was lawful.
Under Section 19(1) of the Trademarks Act and Regulation 44(1) of the Trademarks Regulations, the registrar of trademarks must advertise accepted trademark applications in the Trademarks Journal during such times and in such manner as he or she may direct. Therefore, under these provisions, the registrar is arguably vested with discretionary powers to determine when and how the Trademarks Journal is published. A logical conclusion would be that the omission of the specification of goods in the Trademarks Journal was within the purview of the law. However, in order to obtain the specification of the goods covered by a trademark advertised in the journal, third parties will have to conduct separate searches of the register.
Another interesting feature of the new Trademarks Journal is the publication of service marks applications. On March 19 2007 the then minister of commerce approved the registration of service marks in accordance with the provisions of Section 45(1)(b) of the Trademarks Act. As a consequence, the Ninth Edition of the Nice Classification was adopted as the classification of goods and services in Nigeria. At the time, there was speculation as to whether this development was lawful without an accompanying act of Parliament (for further details please see "New rules may protect service marks in Nigeria"). However, in light of the publication of service mark applications in the new Trademarks Journal, it appears that this controversy has been laid to rest.
Following the appointment of Hadjia J K Ahmadu-Suka as registrar on June 12 2007 (for further details please see "New registrar general appointed"), the operation of the registry has significantly improved, particularly with regard to the publication of the Trademarks Journal. Three issues of the Trademarks Journal (including the current issue) have been released in the past 12 months, which is a commendable achievement in view of what was accomplished prior to Ahmadu-Suka's appointment.
It is hoped that the new administration will continue to address the challenges faced by the registry.
Sade Laniyan, Jackson Etti & Edu, Lagos
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