IP Newsletter – September 2007


The Vanguard Newspaper reported on June 29, 2007 that a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, has held that the trademark of Heinz Africa Trading Company, was infringed by three Nigerian companies, Abicol Nig Ltd, Mickalos Nig Ltd and Rephons Nig Ltd. The presiding judge also granted the plaintiff claim as contained in its writ and statement of claim. The Plaintiff prayed the Court to hold that the defendants’ fake Heinz products, infringed the plaintiff’s trademark and for an order restraining the defendants from continuing to pass off the Plaintiff’s trademark. The matter continues at the Federal High Court.


Thisday Newspaper reported on June 27th, 2007 that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has reopened the Onitsha Drug Market which was closed on March 16, 2007, following series of raids and discovery of fake and counterfeit drugs by NAFDAC officials. The Director General of NAFDAC, Professor Dora Akunyili while announcing the reopening of the market, stated that an 11-point condition must be satisfied by the traders under the close supervision of the State Government, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. This will be monitored by NAFDAC.


The partnership between the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to check piracy of copyright works in the music and movie industry has begun to yield fruits.
The Guardian Newspaper reported that operatives of both agencies earlier in the year launched a simultaneous anti-piracy operation on two large-scale replicating plants (Magnet Integrated Ventures Company Limited, Ajah and Akina Music International Company Limited, Ikeja) and impounded products worth about N32 million. The operation was executed in line with the NCC’s multi-sectoral, public-private sector collaborative campaign under the Strategic Action Against Piracy (STRAP).
In accordance with the Copyright Law and powers vested in the NCC by the Replicating Plants Regulations 2006, the Commission has sealed up the premises of Magnet and Akina replicating plants pending the conclusion of on-going post-raid investigations.


Guinness Nigeria Plc in collaboration with NAFDAC has since resolved the problem created by the adulteration of Guinness Extra Stout in Maraba (a ghetto settlement on the outskirts of Abuja). NAFDAC had earlier in the year uncovered the hideout where the products where being adulterated by certain persons.


The Vanguard Newspaper reported on 27th July, 2007 that the Kano State Government filed charges against Pfizer seeking $6.95 billion in damages for the drug maker’s alleged role in the deaths of children who received an unapproved drug during a meningitis epidemic. The ground for the suit was that Pfizer did not obtain approval from the relevant authorities when it tested the antibiotic Trovan in Kano State in 1996.

Responding to the allegation, Pfizer stated that it intervened in the 1996 meningitis epidemic in Nigeria by setting up and conducting the investigative Trovan study at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) in Kano and made donations over N18 million to Kano State in medicine. Kano state acknowledged the donations in writing. According to Pfizer, approval letters were obtained from NAFDAC on March 20th, 1996 and also from Kano State Ministry of Health.

The Federal Government however discontinued the suit on grounds that the case lacked merit with cost of N10, 000.00 awarded in favour of Pfizer.


The Daily Trust Newspaper reported on Tuesday 25th September, 2007, that the Nigerian Custom Service through its Federal Operations Unit (FOU) arrested two vehicles allegedly containing imported food items. According to the Comptroller of the FOU, the two vehicles were found to be carrying large quantities of illegally imported margarine, vegetable oil, foreign biscuits etc and the products were without NAFDAC numbers.


NAFDAC has arrested no fewer than 30 persons engaged in illegal production, distribution and sale of fake, unregistered and unwholesome packaged water, fruit juices, cosmetics and other regulated products. The Guardian Newspaper reported on 9th September, 2007 the arrest resulted in the closure of about 15 illegal production outfits in the state.


Officers of the trademarks registry have commenced a three (3) day retreat to discuss the smooth running of the registry affairs amongst others. The registry has also concluded preparations for publication of a new Trademarks Journal which will be out shortly.


The Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition Nigeria held its monthly meetings on 19th September, 2007. The meeting reached an agreement on payment of Annual and Subscription fees, a Committee is to be set up to oversee the affairs of the association. Appointment of members of the committee will take place at the next meeting which is scheduled for Wednesday, 24th October, 2007.

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Amended Report

Amended report from the National Committee on the Reform and Harmonisation of Arbitration and ADR Laws in Nigeria

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The members of the National Committee on the Reform and Harmonisation of Nigeria’s Arbitration and ADR Laws would like to thank the Honourable Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Minister for Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo S.A.N., FCI.Arb for giving them the opportunity to serve on the Committee and for his continued support during their service.

We would like to thank the Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, Lagos, the Negotiation and Conflict Management Group, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators’, UK Branch, Messrs Aluko & Oyebode and Mr. Anil Hemnani of Primlaks Nigeria Limited for their financial support to the Committee.

We deeply appreciate the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Reforms Project Nigeria and would like to thank the Agency for sponsoring the Stakeholders’ Conference in Abuja. We would also like to thank the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) for its technical support.

We are grateful to the Retired Hon. Justice Akintola Olufemi Ejiwunmi, JSC, CON, the Honourable (Mr.) Justice Jonah Adah, Mrs. Funke Adekoya SAN, FCIArb, Professor Fidelis Oditah QC, SAN, Mr. Bob Randolph (Partner, Carr, Swanson & Randolph LLC), Dr. Sam Amadi, and Mr. Chidiebere Ibe for their support to the Committee particularly during the National Stakeholders’ Conference in Abuja. We would also like to recognise all those who participated in the National Stakeholders’ Conference and thank them for their recommendations and suggestions.

Our immense gratitude also goes to the President of the Court of Appeal, the Honourable (Mr.) Justice J. Umaru Abdullai for his support and encouragement, the Attorney General’s Chambers, Ministry of Justice, Kogi State, Uche Onwuamaegbu of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Dispute (ICSID), Mr. Alid Kamara of the World Bank, Professor Andrew Chukwuemerie and Chief A.I. Idigbe S.A.N.

We would also like to thank Mrs. Temitope George, Mr. Chukwuma Ezediaro and Mrs. Joke Aliu for the assistance they rendered to the Committee during this service. 

IP Newsletter – June 2007

US Delists Nigeria From Piracy Blacklist

The Vanguard newspaper reported on 23 May 2007 that Nigeria’s initiatives to protect IP rights and reduce copyright infringement resulted in the United States Government removing Nigeria from its Special 301 Lists of countries blacklisted for condoning the rising incidence of IP infringements. Mr Tony Fernandez, the Deputy Economic Consular at the United States Embassy in Abuja, stated that Nigeria deserved commendation for having made considerable efforts in addressing the piracy and counterfeiting of IP in the country. The United States has, furthermore, pledged its support for Nigeria’s regulatory and enforcement measures on IP matters and urged Nigeria to step-up its anti-piracy operations.


Trade Marks Journal

The Nigerian Trade Marks Registry has advised that a Trade Marks Journal will be published shortly.


Nigeria Appoints A New Registrar

Hajiya. J.K. Ahmadu-Suka has been appointed as the new registrar of Trademarks, Patent and Designs. The new Registrar took over from Mr. E. C. Egbuonu, the immediate past registrar. Speaking at the Intellectual Property Law Association of Nigeria (IPLAN) meeting held on June 19th, 2007, the new registrar stated that efforts are being made to computerise all files kept in the Registry’s records.


Nigerian Service Marks – Update

As reported in our previous newsletter, the Regulations relating to service marks in Nigeria is awaiting publication in the Federal Gazette. This has been confirmed by the Registrar of Trade marks, Patent and Design.


National Agency of Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC)

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has called on the Infant Food Manufacturing companies to adhere strictly to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (BMS) warning that defaulters will be adequately sanctioned. Speaking at a one-day sensitisation workshop in Kaduna recently on BMS, the Director-General of NAFDAC Prof. Dora Akunyili stated that the International Code of Marketing of BMS was adopted in May 1981 by World Health (WHA) Resolution No.34.22 both of which are aimed at regulating the marketing of all products used as replacements for breast milk.


About the 17th of June, 2007, NAFDAC embarked on a three-day ‘mop-up’ of a community in Gombe state and urged traders in the state to retrieve fake products from the market. The Chairman of Gombe Traders Association, Alhaji Mohammed Annuri stated that the association has evolved a system in which the members voluntarily surrender fake, expired or banned products to NAFDAC.


Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group (GACG) Awards

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigeria was awarded the winner in the Public organisation category at the 9th Annual Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group Awards held in Paris, France on 26th June, 2007. To date, the agency has carried out a total of 60 destruction exercises valued at over 20 Billion Naira (US$770 million) and has placed about 3,760 metric tonnes of regulated products on “hold”. The Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (ACC), Nigeria congratulates NAFDAC who has been supporting ACC by regular attendance of its monthly meetings and contribution towards the fight against fakes. Other award winners included Nokia IPR Brand Protection, Global Anti-Counterfeiting Team and Brand Protection Group – Lebanon.


If you have any questions or comments relating to the content of this Newsletter, please contact Ms Uche Nwokocha (uche.nwokocha@aluko-oyebode.net)





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IP Newsletter – May 2007

This edition of the IP Newsletter contains the following articles Regulation on Protection of Service Marks in Nigeria; NAFDAC’s Continued Efforts Against Fake Drugs and 2007 Nigerian Elections

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