INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS PROTECTION AS A TOOL FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH IN NIGERIA.
Intellectual Property (IP) has become a major factor in trade negotiations and the development of economic strategies by countries across the globe. The basic rationale for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection is to provide an incentive for innovation by granting IP owners an opportunity to recover their costs of research and development. Since the ability to develop and fully commercialise applied knowledge is a key determinant of a country’s economic growth, the protection of IPR should ideally be of utmost importance to any country pursuing a competitive advantage in the global economy.
In this edition of Brevis, we consider the relevance of protecting IPR, factors which have prevented developing countries such as Nigeria from adequately protecting IPR and we proffer recommendations on how these challenges can be addressed. We hope you have a good read.
IP system also creates a framework in which developing countries can participate in the economic activities of the developed world. It should be noted that developing countries compared to their developed counterparts lost out on several major investment opportunities due to inadequate IPR protection mechanisms. To create a high influx of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into a country, the nation has the primary responsibility of creating an environment where IPRs are protected and effective enforcement measures are in place. This attracts and gives the investors’ confidence that their investments are protected and returns on investments are assured. This will ultimately transcend into creating huge investment opportunities and increased revenue generation.
Although currently, the remedy for an inventor or owner whose IPR is infringed is civil action in court, with the exception of copyright where the owner can institute a criminal action through the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), it is necessary to develop strategies that guarantee protection of IPR in order to curtail the level of violations that occur.
CHALLENGES WITH IPR PROTECTION IN NIGERIA
In Nigeria, the infrastructural and administrative set up for IPR registration is still essentially underdeveloped. The process of filing an IPR application to receiving the desired legal protection can be unnecessarily delayed by bureaucratic protocols; for instance, gazetting an IPR is tied to the publication of the national gazette over which the registries have no control over. Limited infrastructural facilities at the registries also accounts for gaps in documentation of IPRs in Nigeria. These infrastructural deficiencies have affected and reduced the potential economic benefit of IP in Nigeria.
Additionally, IP laws are continuously evolving and expanding.For instance, the Trademark laws in developed economies have evolved beyond marks relating to simple goods.
Presently there are different forms of marks such as slogans, sound marks, service marks and scent marks. Nigeria therefore needs to adapt and develop its own indigenous law tailored to address evolving IPR issues.
Piracy and counterfeit goods are also reoccurring challenges plaguing economic development in Nigeria. This is due to the fact that there is inadequate monitoring of the market and prosecution of defaulters. Closely tied to piracy and counterfeiting is consumer passivity as the average consumer appears to be more interested in getting the ‘cheapest’ option at the expense of original products.
CONCLUSION & RECOMMENDATIONS
As IPRs continue to develop in Nigeria it must be noted that there is significant room for improvement. The development of IPRs is conditional on some factors such as;
- Updating the extant legal framework to address the issues identified above and other perceived gaps;
- The establishment of a revolutionary and proactive monitoring system that can effectively identify existing and potential intellectual property violations;
- Proactive and continuous consumer education on IPRs and how to secure them;
- Investigation, prosecution and conviction of IPR violators; and
- Ratification, careful operation of and participation in Treaties of WIPO and WTO on IPRs; and
- The introduction and adequate implementation of collective system of royalty.
While we hope for the advancement of our laws, regulations and enforcement strategies on the subject, the market already promises immense benefits for its participants.
Arguably this predicament is due in part, to the existence of few and weak tourism related Laws and regulations which invariably creates a state of uncertainty concerning the direction of tourism in Nigeria and prevalent lack of confidence in its investment opportunities. Any tourism destination devoid of a strategy for development that addresses the regulatory as well as fiscal and institutional structures of the industry is inherently compromising the present and future prospects of establishing a pragmatic tourism industry.
In addressing the foregoing, our discussions will focus on the need to develop and implement a fit-for-purpose legal and regulatory framework for tourism in Nigeria.
Legal and Regulatory Framework
Nigeria’s tourism industry is regulated by the following set of laws governing business entry/establishment generally in Nigeria:
- The Companies and Allied Matters Act Cap C20, LFN 2004; governs the formation and regulation business entities in Nigeria
- The Companies Income Tax Act Cap C21, LFN 2004; regulates income tax payable by companies
- The National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion Act Cap N62, LFN 2004; regulates the acquisition of foreign technology
- The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act Cap N17, LFN 2004; regulates foreign investment in Nigeria.
The industry specific regulation for tourism at the Federal level is the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Act Cap N137, LFN 2004. The NTDC Act establishes the NTDC as the apex regulatory governance body for the tourism industry in Nigeria. The NTDC Act also provides for the establishment of a State Tourism Board in each State which is expected to assist the NTDC in implementing the provisions of the NTDC Act. It is important to note that some States in the country have also enacted laws to regulate tourism within their region. For instance, the laws regulating tourism in Lagos State include the Hotel Licensing (Amendment) Law 2010 and the Lagos State Hotel Proprietors Law 1990.
Historically, the Nigerian government’s initial involvement in the tourism industry commenced post-independence with the formation of the Nigeria Tourist Association (NTA), which was registered in1964 as a full member of the International Union of Official Travel Organization (IUOTO), the antecedent of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
In the following years, other developments made within the industry were:
- The military administration in 1976, promulgated Decree 81 which established the Nigeria Tourism Board (NTB).
- In 1982, the development of a master plan on tourism in Nigeria started, leading to the 1990 National Trade and Tourism Policy (NTTP).
- In 1992, the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Act was enacted under which the NTB transformed into the NTDC. The NTDC Act mandated the NTDC to promote, develop and regulate tourism in Nigeria.
- In 2006, the NTTP was replaced by the Nigerian Tourism Development Master Plan (NTDMP). This 2006 master plan addresses the scope of foreign ownership and foreign direct investment (FDI), how tourism investment rights are protected, and the time and cost required for setting up a tourism business in Nigeria.
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