PATENTS by Temitope Adewoye











A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention.

Under the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property rights, patents should be available in WTO member states for any invention, in all fields of technology, and the term of protection available should be a minimum of twenty years.

A patent basically provides the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the patented invention for the term of the patent, which is usually 20 years from the filling date, subject to the payment of maintenance fees.

Patents allow the creator of certain kinds of inventions that contain new ideas to keep others from making commercial use of those ideas without the creator’s permission. For example, Sarah invents a new type of Phone that has fantastic functions. Not only can Sarah keep others from making, selling, or using the precise type of phone she invented, but she may also be able to apply his patent monopoly rights to prevent people from making commercial use of any similar type of phone during the time the patent is in effect (20 years from the date the patent application is filed). (to be continued)

There are three basic types of patents utility patents, design patents, and plant patents.

For all utility patents filed before July 8, 2012, the patent term is 20 years from date of filing, or 17 years from date of issuance, whichever period is longer. For utility patents filed on or after July 8, 2012, the patent term is 20 years from the date of filing. For design patents, the period is 14 years from date of issuance. For plant patents, the period is 17 years from date of issuance.

To qualify for a utility patent, an invention must be;

  • A machine (usually something with moving parts or circuitry, such as a cigarette lighter, sewage treatment system, laser, or photocopier)
  • A process or method for producing a useful, concrete, and tangible result (such as a genetic engineering procedure, an investment strategy, computer software, or a process for conducting e-commerce on the Internet)
  • An article of manufacture (such as an eraser, tire, transistor, or hand tool)
  • A composition of matter (such as a chemical composition, drug, soap, or genetically altered life-form)
  • An improvement of an invention that fits within one of the first four categories

A patent may expire if its owner fails to pay required maintenance fees. Usually this occurs because attempts to commercially exploit the underlying invention have failed and the patent owner chooses to not throw good money after bad.

Patent protection ends if a patent is found to be invalid. This may happen if someone shows that the patent application was insufficient or that the applicant committed fraud on the PTO, usually by lying or failing to disclose the applicant’s knowledge about prior art that would legally prevent issuance of the patent. A patent may also be invalidated if someone shows that the inventor engaged in illegal conduct when using the patent — such as conspiring with a patent licensee to exclude other companies from competing with them.

Once a patent has expired, the invention described by the patent falls into the public domain: it can be used by anyone without permission from the owner of the expired patent. The basic technologies underlying television and personal computers are good examples of valuable inventions that are no longer covered by in-force patents.

The fact that an invention is in the public domain does not mean that subsequent developments based on the original invention are also in the public domain. Rather, new inventions that improve public domain technology are constantly being conceived and patented. For example, televisions and personal computers that roll off today’s assembly lines employ many recent inventions that are covered by in-force patents.

The following items are just some of the things that might qualify for patent protection: biological inventions; business methods; carpet designs; new chemical formulas, processes, or procedures; clothing accessories and designs; computer hardware and peripherals; computer software; containers; cosmetics; decorative hardware; e-commerce techniques; electrical inventions; electronic circuits; fabrics and fabric designs; food inventions; furniture design; games (board, box, and instructions); housewares; Internet innovations; jewelry; laser light shows; machines; magic tricks or techniques; mechanical inventions; medical accessories and devices; medicines; musical instruments; odors; plants; recreational gear; and sporting goods (designs and equipment).













Did you know that the “Happy Birthday” song was not copyrighted until a smart woman did the research and discovered it was in the public domain?

She was granted a copyright, and each time you hear the song being played on air she gets a royalty.

In the 1960’s some of the major American Car companies had failed to properly Copyright and Trademark there in Europe. It was a multimillion-dollar mistake. One enterprising young college student discovered the oversight and went from country to country in Europe doing the necessary legal work to ‘Capture’ the name.

In order to sell their cars in Europe, these companies ended up paying him in millions in licensing fees



Have you ever considered having your own business? If you have a good place to start is by registering your business name. If you own a start up please do well to register your business name with the Corporate Affairs Commission (“C.A.C.”).

The C.A.C is responsible for the formation and management of companies in Nigeria. The commission is empowered to handle all issues associated with company registration, business names and incorporated trustees in Nigeria.

In order to be legally smart as a business owner you need to register your business name as this action would give people great confidence to do business with you.

Before coming up with a business name, consider the following statutory requirements:

  • The names should not be similar to any business or trademark registered in Nigeria. e.g Mike Lawanson Ventures
  • The name should not contain words like ‘National’ ‘Government’ ‘State’ ‘Co-operative’ etc.
  • To use the word ‘Consulting’ you would need to provide the commission evidence of relevant professional qualification; thus avoid the using the word if you don’t have such qualifications.

Please note that the C.A.C.     has the right to disapprove your business name if someone else has registered that same name thus you need to have three alternate names, until your business name is approved you can’t proceed to the next stage.

Once you get a go ahead then you would be able to register your business name;

The following are the requirements for the business registration form:

  • The approved business name
  • The business address
  • The name of the sole proprietor or partners
  • The address of the owners
  • Two passport photographs of the owners
  • General nature of the business

The C.A.C. requires that you state what your business is all about. You have to state at least one thing. The maximum is three. It is up to you to find an object that best describes your business is about.

The following are the objects allowed by the C.A.C.;

  1. Advertising/Public Relations
  2. Agricultural Produce
  3. Agricultural Tools, Machines and Allied Products.
  4. Alternative Medical practice
  5. Aluminum Manufacturing
  6. Architects/Town Planners
  7. Auto Dealers
  8. Auto Mechanics and Rewiring Services
  9. Auto Spare Parts Dealers
  10. Bakery and Fast Foods
  11. Beauty Industry (Salon, Pedicure, Manicure, Barbing ETC)
  12. Bookshops/Stationery Stores
  13. Car Washing Services
  14. Carpentry/Wood works
  15. Chattered Secretaries
  16. Commission Agents
  17. Computer Training, Sales and Services
  18. Cosmetic Manufacturers/Dealers
  19. Day Care Center
  20. 20. Dealers and Distributors
  21. 21. Electrical/Electronic Equipments Dealers
  22. Entertainment Industry/Events Managers
  23. Estate Agency/Maintenance
  24. Fashion Designers
  25. Fish Farming/Fisheries
  26. Food Products and Processing
  27. General Contracts
  28. General merchandise/Trading
  29. General Tax Consultants
  30. Guidance and Counseling
  31. Gymnastics and Stress
  32. Management
  33. Horticulture/Gardening/Landscaping/Equipment Services.
  34. Hospital/Clinics
  35. Hotel/Hospitality Industry
  36. Human Resource Manager
  37. Import/Export of goods and services
  38. Industrial Chemical Supply and Service
  39. Interior/Exterior Decorations
  40. Internet Service Providers
  41. Jewelers
  42. Land and Quantity surveyors
  43. Laundry/Dry Cleaning Services
  44. Legal Practice and consultancy
  45. Maternity Home
  46. Mechanics/Welding
  47. Medical and Pharmaceutical products (manufacturing, sales and services)
  48. Medical Services/Laboratory
  49. Patent Medicine Store/Chemist
  50. Petroleum Products Sales/ Distribution
  51. Pharmaceutical Manufacture/Services
  52. Photography/Photo Equipment
  53. Plastic Manufacturing
  54. Poultry Farming
  55. Printing/Publishing
  56. Restaurant/Catering services
  57. Road Transportation
  58. Schools (Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools)
  59. Supermarkets/Departmental Stores
  60. Textile Manufacturers/Distributors
  61. Travel Agents
  62. Veterinary Clinic/Services
  63. Water works/Borehole drillers

Most businesses will fall under one of these, if not, just use General Merchandise

After getting the certificate for registering your business, you can then be assured that you are legally smart.




TRADEMARKS by Temitope Adewoye

Most times trademarks are often mentioned in the same breath as copyright and patents though; they do sometimes apply to the same thing they are often defined by their differences. It’s important to understand how trademark law differs from other laws protecting creative works (collectively called ‘intellectual property law’; rules and benefit depends on the type of intellectual property at issue.

A trademark is a sign attached to a commodity or service to facilitate and enhance its marketing. It indicates to consumers the source and reputation of the owner of the trademark and provides the owner with an important advertising tool as well as enabling the exploitation of products.

It is important to note that while trademarks are used in reference to signs and graphical representations they may also consist of words, names, designs, letters and numerals.

The registration of a trademark is what confers an exclusive personal property right in the trademark entitling its owner (on proprietor) to remedies for infringement of use. Thus the basic objective of registering a trademark is to obtain protection against possible infringement.

The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual property Rights (TRIPS) provides that the owner of a registered trademark has an exclusive right to prevent all third parties not having its consent from using, in the course of trade, signs for goods or services which are identical or similar to those in respect of which the trademark is registered, especially where such use would result in the likelihood of confusion.

For instance if Company ‘S’ has a registered trademark ‘S’  it has exclusive rights to ‘S’ thus no other company can make use of that sign without its consent. Ok is it possible for you to see a Coca Cola Sign on a Pepsi bottle right? No you guessed right if that should happen it would result in law suits!

Trademarks are different from Copyrights in that Trademark laws protect distinctive words, phrases, logos, symbols and any other devices used to identify and distinguish products or services in the market place. Copyright law on the other hand protects original works of expression such as fine and graphic arts, photography, software, Video, Cinema , novel etc. by ensuring that people are prevented from commercially exploiting them without the copyright owner’s permission. Copyright laws do not protect names, titles, or short phrases. That’s where trademark law comes in.

There are, however, areas where both trademark and copyright law may be used to protect different aspects of the same product. For example, copyright laws may protect the artistic aspects of a graphic or logo used by a business to identify its goods or services, while trademark may protect the graphic or logo from use by others in a confusing manner in the marketplace. Similarly, trademark laws are often used along with copyright laws to protect advertising copy. The trademark laws protect the product or service name and any slogans used in the advertising, while the copyright laws protect the additional creative written expression contained in the ad.




Protect your Ideas by Temitope Adewoye

It’s really no news that we belong to an era that has been tagged the ‘information age’ our generation has more access to information more than previous generations. Understanding the role of Intellectual property cannot be underestimated. In today’s world assets no longer have to be tangible; some of the most powerful organizations on the world rely on abstract information to survive. These assets or property has to be transferable in order to capitalize on its value.

Intellectual property plays an important role in practically every sphere of living; the internet, health care, technology, entertainment, music and arts to mention a few. Basically, intellectual property allows you to own your creativity and innovation in the same way that you own your physical property like your blackberry *laughs*, laptops etc. It gives you control and you can be rewarded for its use and this encourages further innovation and creativity for the benefits of us all.

There are four main types of intellectual property accepted worldwide they are:

  • Trademarks: For brand identity of goods, services allowing distinctions between different traders.
  • Patents: For inventions of new and improved products and processes that are capable of industrial application.
  • Designs: For product appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features in particular, the lines, contours, colors, shape, texture or materials of the product itself.
  • Copyrights: For literary and artistic material, music, films, sound recordings and broadcasts including software and multimedia.

OK trust you learnt a thing or two, going forward I would be posting about intellectual property and how you too can protect your million dollar idea.

Legally Smart

mark zuckerberg    OK! I definitely know you have mind blowing ideas and those ideas could generate money but i also know that you could loose your money as a result of naivety.
The movie social network which revolves around the litigation surrounding the ownership of the ideas and codes at the onset of Facebook has a lot of salient legal lessons you should know in this time and age where young people like you and me are encouraged to toe the part of entrepreneurship.
Lesson 1- Do not make handshake deals: i don’t know how to stress this put your business dealings in writing ‘Paperize everything’ Don’t naively assume that everything will go according to plan. Always keep written agreements, contract for every business relationship you go into. Protect yourself from loss of time,money and potential lawsuits.
Lesson 2- Do not bring in partners without a detailed Agreement- No matter how much you like and trust your business partner you need a legally binding agreement. It is imperative that you have the hard conversation initially when everybody is still in ‘love’. Paperize everything put the terms and conditions of your partnership in writing.
Conclusively, protect your ideas jealously. Don’t be penny wise and pounds foolish. Consult your lawyer.