Experts highlighted the need for strong intellectual property rights (IPRs), which go beyond creating jobs and opening new markets for goods and services.
This was revealed during the US Embassy’s celebration of International Intellectual Property Day, “Intellectual Property and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future,” held in Lagos.
Chairman of the Business Law Section of the Intellectual Property Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ngozi Aderibigbe, explained that the intellectual property infrastructure includes legislations, administrative bodies and enforcement. .
According to her, laws that protect intellectual property include; copyright, industrial designs, trademarks and patents. These rights, she said, are generally administered by the Nigerian Copyright Commission, the Ministry of Trade and Investment, which is in charge of the registry of trademarks, patents and designs, and the National Agricultural Seed Council.
Aderibigbe, however, noted that Nigerian intellectual property laws are not suited to the uniqueness of the country’s development, as they were adopted from foreign laws.
She listed other challenges related to the laws, such as the absence of a global oversight authority over intellectual property issues and outdated laws, regulatory bottlenecks, inefficient administration of justice, the use inadequate technology and anti-counterfeiting measures.
“Our intellectual property laws are rooted in international intellectual property instruments and are not tailored to reflect Nigeria’s special needs and pace of development,” she said.
She highlighted the need for a national IP policy, review/modification of existing legislations and digitization of IP processes.
She suggested prioritizing IP awareness in national IP education, the introduction of specialized IP courts that would be presided over by judges knowledgeable on the subject and improve collaboration between government agencies.
“It is not enough to have structures and laws on intellectual property to protect creativity and innovation in a country. Countries need to develop national IP policies and strategies to utilize these creations,” she said.
Aderibigbe noted that the focus on young people this year is due to their creativity and ability to take risks, and less constraints from their experiences.
“Young people will stimulate economic growth by economically rewarding innovation and creativity. Intellectual property systems encourage young innovators and creators to expand huge areas of technology and creativity. »
Ridwanulahi Olanite, Senior Legal Analyst, Venture Garden Group, said issues related to intellectual property challenges are not unique to Nigeria as they are commonly faced in terms of barriers to cross border business around the world. However, he noted the difficulty of obtaining an objective assessment of intellectual property works, especially for third world countries.
“The value of works attributed to works from third world countries is not as high as the value attributed to first world countries,” he said. He called for collaboration in the area of globalization and intellectual property theft.
According to him, to address intellectual property issues, there must be information acquisition, knowledge sharing sessions and stakeholder engagement by policy makers and law enforcement agencies.
“We need to make sure that we pursue knowledge as a means of gaining insight into global best practices and approaches to solving intellectual property issues.
“Government agencies in Nigeria, most of the time, do not engage with stakeholders before proceeding with policy making,” he said.
US Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard said the US government is committed to raising awareness about the importance of protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights (IPRs) as a resource strategy to enhance economic growth in Nigeria.
She encouraged stakeholders in the intellectual property space to strengthen Nigeria’s legal framework for intellectual property rights and lay a solid foundation for young people to drive innovation and engender a more prosperous country.
“Nigerian youth are an incredible source of ingenuity and creativity. A strong intellectual property rights system assures inventors, industrial designers, musicians and artists that their creative content will be protected and valued,” said Leonard.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director General Daren Tang highlighted the need to develop a more inclusive intellectual property ecosystem that works for everyone.
According to him, young people around the world are at the heart of the work carried out by WIPO where intellectual property is not only a legal right, but transcends the economic and social development of all countries.
“New innovators are constantly looking for ways to address local and global challenges by taking action to create the world they want to see,” he said.
He added that there is a need to equip young people with tools to shape the future by unleashing their creative potential. Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Ogbonnaya Onu highlighted the importance of understanding the basis and application of intellectual property due to the dynamics of the youth population.
For the Ministry, since 2004, WIPO has assisted Nigeria through the Ministry in raising IP awareness among Nigerian research institutes through its University Initiative, which evolved into the establishment of Transfer Offices of technology in universities and research institutes called intellectual property and technology transfer offices.
He added that the ministry has revised the national science, technology and innovation policy document with emphasis on intellectual property, covering awareness, development and protection.
“As Nigeria’s economy grows, intellectual property is expected to play a better role in economic development,” he said. U.S. Embassy Director, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), Jason Smith, said intellectual property rights are the keystone to fostering innovation around the world and ensuring that innovators, musicians and others are protected and supported as they continue to create new intellectual property.