Omission of specification of goods in Trademarks Journal generates debate
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The omission of the specification of the goods and services covered by the trademarks advertised in the last two issues of the Trademarks Journal has generated controversy in Nigeria.
In the past year, the operation of the trademarks registry has significantly improved, particularly in relation to the publication of the Trademarks Journal. Since the appointment of the current registrar of trademarks on April 19 2007, four issues of the Trademarks Journal have been published, which is a commendable achievement of the current administration.
However, in the last two issues of the Trademarks Journal (published on June 6 2008 and July 30 2008), the specification of the goods and services was omitted for the first time (for further details please see "New bumper issue of Trademarks Journal released").
This omission has created several problems for trademark owners and practitioners, particularly with regard to the filing of oppositions, as the specification of the goods and services covered by an application usually assists interested parties in deciding whether to oppose an advertised trademark. Moreover, a review of the trademark applications advertised in other jurisdictions reveal that such applications always include the specification of the goods and services.
Under Section 19(1) of the Trademarks Act and Regulation 44(1) of the Trademarks Regulations, the registrar may advertise a trademark application in the Trademarks Journal as he or she deems fit. However, the registrar’s decision not to include the specification of goods and services in both journals does not appear to be in line with international practice.
As the Nigerian trademarks register is not computerized, the omission of the specification of goods and services has created a number of challenges, including the following:
- It is more difficult for third parties to decide whether to oppose a particular trademark application;
- Third parties bear additional costs in relation to searches in order to obtain the specification of the goods and services covered by advertised trademarks; and
- The obligation to conduct searches leads to delays.
Arguably, a number of measures should be put in place if the specification of the goods and services is to be excluded in future issues of the journal, including:
- the computerization of the registry’s records;
- the establishment of a rational structure for the operation of the registry; and
- the training of registry officials with regard to IP and administrative matters.
However, it is hoped that subsequent editions of the Trademarks Journal will be in conformity with international practice and include the specification of the goods and services covered by advertised trademarks.
Folasade Laniyan, Jackson Etti & Edu, Lagos
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