Intellectual Property Law

Intellectual Property is the intangible creation of the human mind. It could also be defined as the product of human reasoning. Intellectual property involve the use of the human intellect to create usually in form of an idea or in form of a solution to a problem.

Catherine Colston had this to say about Intellectual property, “it is all about the results of human creativity. Its subject matter is formed from new ideas generated by man. New ideas may be applied in as many ways as the human mind can conceive. Their application to human needs and desires can be of considerable benefit to mankind” .

Intellectual property, very broadly, means the legal rights which result from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields. Countries have laws to protect intellectual property for two main reasons. One is to give statutory expression to the moral and economic rights of creators in their creations and the rights of the public in access to those creations. The second is to promote, as a deliberate act of Government policy, creativity and the dissemination and application of its results and to encourage fair trading which would contribute to economic and social development.

The Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), concluded in Stockholm on July 14, 1967 (Article 2(viii)) provides that “intellectual property shall include rights relating to:

  • literary, artistic and scientific works,
  • performances of performing artists, phonograms and broadcasts,
  • inventions in all fields of human endeavor,
  • scientific discoveries,
  • industrial designs,
  • trademarks, service marks and commercial names and designations,
  • Protection against unfair competition, and all other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields.”

Generally speaking, intellectual property law aims at safeguarding creators and other producers of intellectual goods and services by granting them certain time-limited rights to control the use made of those productions. Those rights do not apply to the physical object in which the creation may be embodied but instead to the intellectual creation as such. Intellectual property is traditionally divided into two branches, “industrial property” and “copyright” (including neighboring rights)

Industrial Property includes patents for inventions, trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indications. The main statutes in this regard are the Patents and Designs Act and the Trademarks Act.

Copyright covers literary works (such as novels, poems and plays), films, music, artistic works (e.g., drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures) and architectural design. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and broadcasters in their radio and television programs. In Nigeria, copyright is largely governed by the Copyright Act

In conclusion, the essence of intellectual property law cannot be underestimated as it provides that legal framework and shield whereby individuals and corporate bodies can express their creativity and also encourage national development.