Nigeria has traditionally been viewed as a challenging jurisdiction from a trademark protection perspective, with outdated legislation, weak infrastructure and slow response times at the Nigerian Trademark Registry causing problems. However, efforts are underway to improve the IP framework. A bill introduced in 2018 to repeal the 1965 Trademarks Act and the 1967 Trademark Regulations looks likely to enter into force soon; among other things, it would expand the definition of what constitutes a trademark and the range of acts deemed to constitute trademark infringement. A new Trademark Tribunal was also established in 2019 as an administrative arm of the registry to handle oppositions and the publication of trademark journals has become more consistent, helping to limit conflicts arising from the country’s first-to-file system.
- Jackson, Etti & Edu
- Aluko & Oyebode
- Banwo & Ighodalo
- G Elias & Co
- O Kayode & Co
- Olajide Oyewole LLP
- Allan & Ogunkeye
- Inventa International
- Okey IP
ACAS-LAW is a haven for international brand owners due to its swiftness and efficiency: “The team is exceptionally prompt in responding to instructions and ensures that all work is done in a timely fashion and deadlines are met. Nigeria can be a difficult and slow jurisdiction to protect trademarks in, but not when you’re with ACAS-LAW. The firm is excellent at retrieving lost and old records from the trademark office and makes a superb effort to push old trademark applications and secure registrations.” Sited within the full-service firm’s corporate and commercial department is a dedicated IP group, which promotes a business-focused approach to trademarks; unsurprisingly, IP-driven transactions are a forte. Taking the lead is founding partner Afolabi Caxton-Martins, whose 30 years in the trademark game have given him impressively deep market insight. Head of intellectual property Uzoamaka Emerole is another name to note: “She handles matters with complicated facts well and does a wonderful job tracking everything down and laying out a clear, thoroughly assessed case. She is always a pleasure to work with.” She was recently engaged by Chevron in August 2019 to manage its portfolio in Nigeria and provide advisory services, and has been working with numerous other well-known brands, such as Avis Budget Group, Pandora, Brown-Forman and Jack Daniel’s Properties.
Allan & Ogunkeye
A trailblazer in Nigeria, Allan & Ogunkeye has maintained its elite status through involvement in cases of seminal importance in the Nigerian IP space. Flanked by robust commercial and dispute resolution departments, the IP group can corral abundant resources to address multi-layered trademark, trade dress and copyright matters. Head of dispute resolution Obatosin Babatunde Ogunkeye has consistently pushed the boundaries of IP law in Nigeria and is hailed as an innovative and strategic thinker. Timothy Olubor is the key contact for trademark registration and portfolio maintenance, though he also litigates with brio.
Aluko & Oyebode
Adept in many legal fields, Aluko & Oyebode demonstrates a strong faculty for intellectual property. The firm flawlessly dispatches all trademark instructions, but shines particularly brightly in litigation and enforcement with Uche Nwokocha on the frontlines. The IP and anti-counterfeiting practice leader – and INTA board member – is an essential ally for many global brands, which find her enthusiasm and tireless work ethic inspiring. Joining her in the rankings for the first time this year is partner Mark Mordi, a poised litigator and negotiator sought after by top pharmaceutical companies, among others.
The IP team at dynamic general practice ǼLEX goes above and beyond to vigorously protect brand rights and is a popular port of call for prestigious international law firms and brand owners. Helping to drive impressive recent growth in the practice, Tiwalola Osazuwa makes her WTR 1000 debut for the 2021 edition. The rising star is “efficient, knowledgeable and responsive” – qualities she has been putting to good use on behalf of Huawei Technologies and the International Olympic Committee in prosecution. On the contentious side, the set performs adroitly thanks to the stalwart efforts of seasoned partner Davidson Oturu. He knows what it takes to secure the right results in oppositions and in criminal and civil enforcement actions. A recent highlight includes representing Retail Supermarkets Nigeria in a copyright and brand dilution case arising from a jingle that made use of his client’s SHOPRITE trademark. Strong leadership is provided by Theophilus Emuwa, a 30-year veteran who provides fine-tuned commercial IP advice.
Banwo & Ighodalo
One of Nigeria’s premier law firms, Banwo & Ighodalo regularly handles trademark and licensing matters for major clients in the telecoms, technology and consumer goods industries. Active across the brand lifecycle, the specialised IP team works quickly, proactively, creatively and commercially to solve difficult problems and get satisfying results. The set enjoys collaborative relationships with distinguished IP players across Africa, ensuring a joined-up regional service. At the forefront of operations are Femi Olubanwo and Chinasa Uwanna. Captain of the side Olubanwo has chalked up more than 30 years in the IP game and is tapped by household-name multinationals for his deep market knowledge. Senior associate Uwanna delivers “prompt service, out-of-the box and cost-effective advice and, most importantly, excellent outcomes”. She been firing on all cylinders on the trademark front of late, providing registration and infringement advice for Formula One and Tommy Hilfiger. Illustrating the spirit of teamwork that characterises the firm, the two pair up on files to great effect: Arsenal Football Club, Katy Perry, Monster Energy Company and Titan Trust Bank instruct them on brand maintenance, while big hospitality names IBIS and Ritz dial their number when litigation looms.
G Elias & Co dispenses nuanced IP advice and sees to registrations, renewals and licensing tasks with a sure hand. Operating out of offices in Abuja and Lagos, the set has cultivated strong networks across East Africa, making it a smart choice for those with regional IP concerns. Setting the standard as managing partner, Fred Onuobia, has a passion for intellectual property and impeccable client service, which is reflected in his thoroughly informed advice and prompt and timely delivery.
Inventa is a favourite of many leading foreign law firms, thanks to the confidence and efficiency with which it takes on Nigerian trademark tasks. Highly skilled at obtaining, managing and enforcing IP rights, the team never goes through the motions, but deploys strategic thinking to offer added value. With offices in Portugal, Nigeria, Angola and Mozambique, it can be relied on to seamlessly dispatch cross-border mandates. “Diligent professional” Angela Adebayo is appreciated for her “neat, efficient and solutions-oriented” approach.
Jackson, Etti & Edu
Jackson, Etti & Edu is unmatched on the Nigerian trademark scene in terms of both volume and quality. Having lately adopted a sector-focused approach, the gold-ranked firm gets right to the heart of clients’ business needs and tailors its advice to evolving industry trends and developments. Founding partner Lookman Durosinmi-Etti and head of intellectual property Uwa Ohiku have decades of experience between them, and motivate and inspire colleagues and clients alike. Renaissance man Durosinmi-Etti effortlessly traverses the legal spectrum; in intellectual property, he is hailed as a problem solver and litigator. Ohiku manages large portfolios with a deft touch on behalf of European and US blue-chips, and is also an authority on domain names. Partners Chinyere Okorocha and Obafemi Agaba are further top names on the team sheet. With a flair for client relationship management, Okorocha was the architect of the sector-led initiative. Obafemi takes the reins of the brands practice and demonstrates sophisticated trademark protection and enforcement nous. He is currently representing Toyota in a high-profile trademark infringement case against Subaya Metalware that has gone all the way up to the Supreme Court.
O Kayode & Co
IP boutique O Kayode & Co can be counted on to deliver the right result no matter what kind of trademark brief it is presented with. Highlights of its 360-degree offering include personalised portfolio management and hard-hitting enforcement services. Pulling the strings is founding partner Lara Kayode, whose breadth and depth of expertise and tireless dedication to clients put her in hot demand. She gets to the nub of complex issues in double-quick time and provides incisive, results-driven counsel.
Since setting up shop in 2016, Okey IP has revealed itself to be a dynamic trademark protector. The fresh-thinking ensemble understands brands at a business level and knows how best to exploit them to help clients achieve their commercial goals. Prosecution, portfolio management, anti-counterfeiting, litigation and transactional briefs are all taken care of by an enthusiastic crew of young lawyers.
Olajide Oyewole LLP
As a member of the DLA Piper Alliance, Olajide Oyewole leverages on its global network to offer an internationally flavoured service both at home and abroad. Companies have no qualms about the quality of its work and ply it with registration, monitoring, opposition and other instructions. Recent developments include growth in strategic advisory and sports sector work. At the head of the practice is Otu-Ekong Ukoyen, a go-to for foreign brands establishing themselves in Nigeria and local companies seeking to expand their business and influence. One example of the latter is Rite Foods, which he has been representing in several oppositions recently. Beyond his client-driven activities, Ukoyen contributes much to the advancement of IP practice in the jurisdiction.
- Obafemi Agaba - Jackson, Etti & Edu
- Lara Kayode - O Kayode & Co
- Uche Nwokocha - Aluko & Oyebode
- Uwa Ohiku - Jackson, Etti & Edu
- Chinyere Okorocha - Jackson, Etti & Edu
- Angela Adebayo - Inventa International
- Afolabi Caxton-Martins - ACAS-LAW
- Lookman Durosinmi-Etti - Jackson, Etti & Edu
- Uzoamaka Emerole - ACAS-LAW
- Theophilus Emuwa - ǼLEX
- Mark O Mordi - Aluko & Oyebode
- Obatosin Babatunde Ogunkeye - Allan & Ogunkeye
- Femi Olubanwo - Banwo & Ighodalo
- Timothy Olubor - Allan & Ogunkeye
- Fred Onuobia - G Elias & Co
- Tiwalola Osazuwa - ǼLEX
- Davidson Oturu - ǼLEX
- Otu-Ekong Ukoyen - Olajide Oyewole LLP
- Chinasa Uwanna - Banwo & Ighodalo