What has been your biggest achievement over the past year?
The past year has been a challenging one globally. The pandemic has changed the way that we all now conduct our business. Many businesses have shut down or have adapted the way that they work, while many people have lost loved ones to covid-19. I can honestly say that my biggest achievement over the past year has been to be able to adapt to the unusual circumstances that we have all found ourselves in. Adapting to working remotely and learning to use technology to run global operations has been a huge leap for me personally and professionally. Learning to keep going despite these massive changes has been, I would say, my greatest achievement.
What does effective leadership look like to you and how has your management style changed over the years?
Effective leadership is the ability to show courage, passion, commitment, confidence and drive, in addition to providing direction. An effective leader should be able to harness and nurture the strength and talents of the people within their sphere of influence. We should be willing and able to direct, inspire and guide the members of our team. My management style has had to evolve with the changing global environment; however, these staples of leadership remain the foundation from which I have led our small but effective team. As the years have progressed, I have also recognised the importance of vision sharing, integrity, communication, leading by example, empowerment and recognising success, as well as the need to motivate and inspire.
What are the biggest challenges facing rights holders in Nigeria and how can these be overcome?
The current challenges facing rights holders in Nigeria remain two-fold: administrative and legislative. While the administrative challenges have improved to a large extent compared to a few years ago, rights holders still experience delays. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, as the Patent and Trademark Office is transitioning from a manual to an online filing platform. Legislative challenges arise from outdated laws, which have suffered from a consistent lack of reform. These are also under review, with various advocacy attempts to ensure that the law is brought up to date in the not too distant future.
How are client demands changing and how have you adapted to this?
As we all know, the times are uncertain as we recover from the pandemic, and restrictions are yet to be fully lifted. Despite the prevailing circumstances, clients are demanding that their rights be protected regardless, and we have been able to fill the gap to ensure that this happens. As the world becomes increasingly virtual, we have been able to adapt to the new normal as it relates to the work that we do. While some corporate government offices have entry restrictions in place, we have tried to ensure that this does not affect our clients’ rights by carrying on business as usual, albeit electronically. We understand that protecting our clients’ rights is paramount; therefore, we do our best to secure these.
How has your involvement with INTA helped your professional development, and why is engagement with national and international IP associations important?
Participation at INTA has significantly aided my professional development. The opportunities that have opened up to me through various events and volunteering to participate on various committees, the board and the council, respectively, have been invaluable.
It has long been my desire to contribute to the global development of intellectual property. As a member of INTA, I have been able to participate in meaningful activities that positively affect the IP space at both a global and national level. INTA’s activities foster engagement with national IP associations, as well as non-governmental organisations, which are key to identifying areas where assistance is needed, as well as bridging knowledge gaps where necessary. Capacity building is another important area that activities and participation at INTA have helped to boost, and we have seen that both INTA and the Nigerian IP Bar have benefitted from this immensely.
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 and former board member of INTA, is the current subcommittee chair of the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise Building Bridges Committee and was previously the subchair at the Unreal Campaign Committee. She heads the legal commission on the management committee at the Lycée Français Louis Pastuer in Lagos, Nigeria.