A logo is a symbol, graphic mark, emblem, stylized name, or other design used to identify a company, organization, product, or brand. It may take the form of an abstract or figurative design, or it may present as a stylized version of the company's name if it has sufficient brand recognition.
Logos are an integral part of a company's brand identities. A widely and instantly recognized logo is a valuable intangible asset for a corporation and is thus usually trademarked for intellectual property protection.
One of the most commonly trademarked symbols is a company logo. Businesses use their logo on marketing and advertising pieces, products for sale, vehicles, apparel, uniforms, and much more. Without trademark protection, the company logo is at risk of imitation.
The purpose of trademarking a logo is to avoid confusion among consumers and to make sure that a consumer can clearly identify what product or service came from what business. Without proper legal protection, any company could replace another's logos without legal risk, leading to confusion for consumers about which products to buy.
The framework governing the use and protection of trademark in Nigeria is the Trade Marks Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004. Trademark is registered through the Trademarks Registry, Commercial Law Department, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
PROCEDURE FOR REGISTRATION OF LOGO IN NIGERIA
The procedure for registration of a trademark can be summarized are as follows:
- CONDUCTING INITIAL SEARCH
A search must be conducted to determine the availability of a logo before any application for registration is made, this is to prevent an application from being rejected by the Registrar on the ground of conflicting with an existing trademark. Searching allows the applicant to make an informed decision as to the treatment of logos closely resembling that is proposed to be registered. The applicant may also choose to make adequate changes to the proposed logo to prevent cases of mixed identity which can be detrimental to the goodwill of a business.
- FILING APPLICATION
Application for the registration of a trademark shall be filed with the Registry and is subject to the payment of a prescribed fee. On receiving the application, the Registrar will issue an Acknowledgement Form confirming the receipt of the application by the Registry and the temporary number allocated to the trademark, pending registration and allocation of a permanent registration number.
- PUBLICATION AND APPROVAL
Where the Registrar finds that the proposed logo has fulfilled all the requirements and is deemed registrable, a Letter of Acceptance is issued approving the use of the same. After which the logo is published in the Trademark journal published by the Trademarks Office so that any interested person may file a notice of opposition to the registration timeously.
- CERTIFICATION OF REGISTRATION
Where no notice of opposition is filed against a publication or such notice of opposition was filled but has been discharged in favor of the applicant, the Registrar shall register the logo or trademark and issue a certificate of registration to the applicant.
GROUNDS FOR REFUSAL OF A REGISTRATION
A duly filed trademark may be rejected based on the following grounds;
- It fails to conform with the definition of a trademark.
- It is similar or closely identical to an existing logo or any logo which is subject of an application with an earlier filing date.
- It is likely to mislead the public and cause confusion.
- It is contrary to public order or morality.
- It is identical or an imitation of symbol or emblem adopted by the State, intergovernmental organization or international convention unless authorized by the State or such government organization.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE REGISTRATION OF A LOGO IN NIGERIA
- The following are the basic requirements for registration of logo or trademark in Nigeria
- The copy of the logo.
- The name and address of the company that owns the proposed logo to be registered.
- Phone number and email address of the applicant
- A list of goods for which the registration of the logo is requested for or the class of the trademark if already known by the applicant.
Finally, it is important to state that apart from a logo, a wordmark can also be registered as a trademark. And once a logo or trademark has been registered, it lasts for seven years after which it can be renewed for a subsequent period of 14 years whenever it expires. A registered trademark may be forfeited where it is not used for a long period.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.