Nigeria: Yet another reason to register trade marks

There are changes coming to the company legislation in Nigeria, the Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990 (CAMA). One of the changes creates a direct link between company names and trade marks. This has significant implications for brand owners.

In future, it will not be possible to register a company under a name that conflicts with, or violates, an existing registered trade mark without the consent of the trade mark owner - the companies authority, the Corporate Affairs Commission, will be required to reject any such application. The significance of this is that it will become ever more important for brand owners to register their trade marks in Nigeria, in order to avoid having their trade marks feature in the names of unrelated companies.

These changes have already been passed by the Nigerian senate and the legislation will now be sent to the president for signature.

Many brand owners will already be aware that trade mark registration is becoming increasingly important in Nigeria. Companies operating in areas such as food, drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, chemicals, pesticides, veterinary products, agrochemicals and herbal preparations need to register with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) before they can sell their products in Nigeria. In order to get a NAFDAC registration, they first need either a Nigerian trade mark application that has been accepted or a trade mark registration. This makes trade mark registration compulsory for companies operating in these sectors.

Trade mark registration has, of course, always been important. Now with the authorities poised to take account of trade mark registrations when considering company names, it becomes even more so.

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Date published: 11 April 2019
Author: Spoor & Fisher