Trademarks Registry introduces online filings - well, almost

An attempt has recently been made to bring the operations of the Nigerian Trademarks Registry into line with international standards by introducing online services, including payments and filings.

The commencement date for a pilot test of the online application system was initially scheduled for the second quarter of 2011, but the test was later postponed for logistical reasons. Therefore, at present the filing system is still manual and fraught with limitations.

Online filings and registrations were supposed to start with the development of an online database of all official files at the Trademarks Registry (eg, registered trademarks, opposed trademarks and new trademark applications). The aim was to:
  • facilitate the tracking and collection of information by agents and trademark owners; and
  • provide a podium that would enable the Nigerian Ministry of Commerce to formulate relevant policies.
Members of the public would also be able to conduct searches, make payments when filing trademark applications and obtain receipts for any application filed.

Under the proposed system, agents, firms and interested parties would require accreditation in order to have access to the registry’s portal. In order to obtain accreditation, minimum requirements - including, but not limited to, academic qualifications - will apply.

The accreditation process requires that the firm/agent obtain a PIN code which will allow it to access the registry's website at any time. The accreditation of agents has already commenced and is ongoing.

The registry's website will also provide information on:
  • new practice directions at the registry;
  • the registry's participation in international fora; and
  • seminars and training.
This move by the registry is a step in the right direction; and praise must be given to the current registrar, Hajia Jamila Ahmadu-Suka (please see "New registrar general appointed" and "Changes underway at the Trademarks Registry"). In any case, IP practitioners and interested parties should keep a close watch on developments at the registry.

Uwa Ohiku, Jackson Etti & Edu, Lagos

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