NIGERIAN NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION (‘NBC’) ENFORCING RESTRICTION ON BROADCASTING LICENSING
The NBC, under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation, resolved during August 2006 that the Nigerian Broadcasting Code (‘the Code’) does not recognise exclusivity in sports transmission. Section 1.16.1 of the Code which regulates Service Providers within the Industry states:
“In Nigeria, the coverage of Sporting and Major National Events shall not be Exclusive to any Station. Such Programme shall be made available to other Operators on Mutually negotiated terms”.
Section 1.16.2 further states that
“Where the Commission needs to arbitrate its decision shall be final and binding on all parties”.
Nigeria is therefore treated as a separate broadcast territory for the acquisition of sports broadcasting rights, including the FA Premier League. With Nigeria being excluded from broadcasting packages sold to Sub-Saharan African licensees, revenues will be increased for foreign content providers with an increased demand for their services. This will invariably result in an increase in prices – the increase which will in turn be borne by Nigerian subscribers.
Aluko & Oyebode formed an Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (“ACC”) in Nigeria for brand owners to become more active in the fight against counterfeiting, infringement and piracy. The ACC is non-profit and no fees are payable. Brand owners meet to share information and conduct joint initiatives to share resources and expertise. Many of the notable brand owners have joined ACC and members meet once a month to discuss issues of common interest.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (IP) LAW REFORMS IN NIGERIA
The Nigerian IP Laws have been reviewed and a new draft bill known as the IPCOM (Intellectual Property Commission) Bill, fully compatible with the standards set out in the TRIPS Agreement has been presented to the National Assembly as part of the intellectual property law reform process.
The new draft Trademarks Act embodied in the IPCOM Bill makes provision for better protection and the definition of “trademarks” has been expanded to include “services”. The draft Trademarks Act also makes provision for, inter alia, the following amendments:
- protection of sounds and smells
- protection of geographical indications
- protection of Plant Variety and Animal Rights
- amending the system of maintaining a register of registrations in Part “A” or “B” to only a single register to ensure that there is no discrimination against applicants
- amendment to the terms of trademark registration protection and renewal. The first term of protection will be 7 (seven) years and renewal will then be possible every 7 (years) thereafter in perpetuity
- protection of well-known marks
- securing the trademark proprietor’s rights through the enlargement of the Nigerian Courts’ jurisdiction, empowering the Courts to grant ex parte injunctions and other interlocutory orders.
NIGERIAN COPYRIGHT COMMISSION
The Nigerian Copyright Commission (“NCC”) is increasing public awareness and education through the use of advertisements in local publications providing information in respect of copyright infringement, particularly computer software protection under the Nigerian Copyright Act.
Recent media reports also bear testimony to regular raids on the markets of pirated goods and the subsequent public burnings of these goods by the NCC. The NCC is clearly waging an effective war against counterfeiting and piracy in Nigeria.
Unfortunately, in a recent case involving the University Press Plc, the NCC failed to exercise its statutory duties despite formal representations from the Plaintiff whose work had been blatantly plagiarised and pirated, as attested to by a court of competent jurisdiction. The suspected reason for the NCC’s indifference is that the South-West Zonal Office of the NCC is located within the premises of University Press Plc in Jericho, Ibadan.
Fighting infringement and piracy is a corporate responsibility involving the NCC, the Courts, the copyright owners and the general public. The judiciary clearly has a pivotal role to play. In his landmark judgment on 10 October 2006, the Honourable Justice S Yahaya captured the essence in fighting counterfeiting and piracy when he stated “the primary motive behind the award of damages in an action for copyright infringement is to discourage the appropriation of the work of one person by another”.*
* Information obtained from Guardian Newspapers Limited in an article entitled “Between the pirate and the plagiarist” by Dr. Matthew Umukoro
NATIONAL OFFICE FOR TECHNOLOGY ACQUISITION AND PROMOTION (NOTAP)
NOTAP was, until 1992, known as the National Office of Industrial Property (NOIP). NOTAP is responsible for the implementation, acquisition, promotion and development of technology in Nigeria and has an emphasis on focussing and attracting foreign technologies and investment as well as the development of local manpower with a view to improving local technological capabilities.
The Wold Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) provides technical assistance and support to NOTAP enabling NOTAP to provide the services of, inter alia:
- dissemination of technology information to interested parties;
- technology advisory services to support Nigerian entrepreneurs in the negotiation, absorption and adaptation of foreign technologies;
- preparation of feasibility studies on industrial projects;
- conducting technology market survey for needs for new products and processes and channelling the information to institutions to promote market-driven research, etc.
NEW YEAR GREETINGS
Aluko & Oyebode would like to wish you and your family a prosperous 2007!
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