Stakeholders Seek Strengthened Laws For IP Rights Protection

Kunle Adelabu

Mr John Asein, Director General, Nigerian Copyrights Commission

Stakeholders in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) have called for strengthened collaborations and enforcement of laws to adequately protect young creatives in Nigeria, to foster economic development.

They made the call on Tuesday, during the law enforcement capacity building workshop session of the 2022 Intellectual Property (IP) Symposium at the Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja.

The symposium was organised by the U.S. Mission in Nigeria and the American Business Council in commemoration of World Intellectual Property Day 2022.

The theme for this year was, “Intellectual Property and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future”.

Mr John Asein, the Director General, Nigerian Copyrights Commission (NCC), stressed the need to protect young people because they were key drivers in the knowledge and technology-driven space.

Asein said it was the responsibility of relevant agencies and stakeholders to ensure that IPR legal frameworks were put in place to protect creatives.

“We have come to realise that young people have the energy, talent and what it takes to grow and help Nigeria be a better country.

“The NCC and other relevant agencies responsible for growing and protecting intellectual property will be more available to support the use of their talent,” he said.

He added that the commission under its hashtag #TalktoNCC would continue to engage with the youth and provide road maps to harness IP for wealth creation, job opportunities and development of Nigeria.

He said that the NCC had been collaborating with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), to ensure pirated books do not go through the border.

“The IP ecosystem has many stakeholders. We also have law enforcement agencies who collaborate to ensure we have effective enforcement.

“For border control, we have the NCS and they have been working well with the NCC to ensure pirated books do not go through our border.

“Food and drugs also carry trademarks which is a type of intellectual property. In this regard, NAFDAC also has a role to play in fighting counterfeits,” he said.

He, however, expressed optimism that the new copyright law would strengthen the enforcement and regulatory mandate of the commission so that creatives would get more value for their work.

Mr Kingsley Ejiofor, Director, Investigation and Enforcement, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said the agency was also concerned with safeguarding the intellectual property of health-related products by enforcing the law.

Ejiofor said that IPR was beyond the copyright of literary works to include trademarks such as brand name, product design and packaging.

“When a product is registered and branded, there is IPR involved and people should be able to benefit from their intellectual property without infringement.

“At NAFDAC, before we register a product, we request proof of trademark because we found out that people copy other people’s brands.

“Our enforcement activities are also targeted at counterfeiters who ride on other people’s brands for financial gains without regard to the safety of lives.

He advised people to register their brands with the patent and trademark office so that the law can protect them when a violation of IPR occurs.

On his part, Justice Ayokunle Faji said that the Nigerian society was not dealing with IPR issues seriously due to a lack of adequate knowledge within the society and legal system.

According to him, the courts were not well-equipped for IPR cases because there are few lawyers specialising in IPR issues and even fewer judges.

He said that there must be conscious efforts at creating specialised alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practitioners who are knowledgeable in IP law and practice.

Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) Comptroller-General, NCS, gave assurance that NCS would continue to interface and harmonise efforts with relevant agencies on IPR issues for creativity and innovation to thrive.

Ali who was represented by Comptroller Ogah Modeh said: “Protecting intellectual property goes beyond financial gains. It also protects society from harmful substandard products and takes away resources from criminal elements.

“As stakeholders, we have a duty to our youths to create conditions where creativity and innovation can thrive.”

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