O Kayode & Co
What led you to establish O Kayode & Co and what tips would you offer anyone considering setting up their own firm?
As a young law graduate who had completed a master’s in IP law at Queen Mary University of London, I returned home to set up a firm that would be on par with my colleagues globally and would provide efficient, up-to-date and proactive advice to clients, despite the challenges of working on the African continent. I suppose you could say that I wanted to make a difference.
You manage trademark, patent and industrial design portfolios for a range of domestic and international rights holders. What skills do clients look for in a top-level IP adviser?
When patrons entrust the management of their IP rights to an adviser, they are looking for a good knowledge of intellectual property, diligence, responsiveness and drive. The ability to provide practical solutions to real-life problems is vital. When we search for firms to partner with on the continent, these are some of the qualities that we look for. Further, international clients (and some domestic ones) require a one-stop shop to protect their IP rights.
As chair of the INTA Unreal Campaign Committee (Middle East, Africa and South Asia), why is it important to educate young consumers about the significance of trademarks and how can the IP community as a whole help in this effort?
As an IP lawyer, I am passionate about educating people about the importance of intellectual property. I find that the ideas and values that are instilled into people at a young age are more difficult to shake off when they get older. It is in line with this conviction that I have dedicated my services as the chair of the Unreal Campaign Committee. It is a crucial time to educate young people about the importance of trademarks and intellectual property in general so that they can grow up with these values.
To support the development of IP knowledge around the world, the IP community should encourage and sponsor the incorporation of IP education into the school curriculum.
As chair of the INTA Building Bridges subcommittee, I have the opportunity to establish links between INTA and SMEs, for which the protection of IP rights is invaluable. Through this endeavour, INTA wishes to establish a lasting relationship with SMEs and I am excited about this assignment.
What are the biggest challenges that brand owners face in protecting their trademarks from counterfeiters in Nigeria?
The challenges are largely two-fold: administrative and legislative. The administrative challenges include issues such as an absence or inadequate provision of necessary materials for the IP office to function effectively; employees are willing but it is difficult for them to do this work effectively – although there have been noticeable changes in the past few years. The legislative challenges arise from archaic laws related to the protection of IP rights. Further, the regulatory bodies (ie, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria and Customs) have been great partners in enforcing IP rights against counterfeiters.
How different do you think the sub-Saharan brand protection landscape will look in five years?
The global pandemic has led to a re-evaluation of the way in which we work, which will have an effect on IP offices. In the next five years, I think that the use of technology will become necessary to succeed in the global space.
There is an increased awareness among sub-Saharan African nations of the necessity to protect their intellectual property. This in turn has led to a rise in advocacy for the development of national IP policies and pan-African alliances, which will no doubt change the way in which intellectual property is safeguarded on the continent.
Lara Kayode is the founding and managing partner of O Kayode & Co. She manages all industrial property and advertising law matters for domestic and international clients in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa. A notary public and Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution mediator, Ms Kayode is an active board member of INTA and is the current subcommittee chair of the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise Building Bridges Committee, and was previously the subchair of the Unreal Campaign Committee. She heads the legal commission on the management committee at the Lycée Français Louis Pasteur in Lagos, Nigeria.