Welcome to another episode of our Legal Business Series!
Last time out, we discussed the importance of having your Incorporation documents drafted by a legal practitioner. If you missed it, please follow the hashtag #LegalBusiness to catch up.
Remember Joseph? Becky’s former associate who stole away one of her clients (Alhaji Bako) and started his own digital marketing outfit? He registered a company and named it Bionic Don Limited.
While Joseph was still under Becky’s employment, he was privy to her client list and had access to most of her contacts. He had also been in charge of sending out promotional emails to these clients. He decided to take advantage of this after a few months of launching his business without acquiring new clients. He started sending out Bionic Don promotional emails to Becky’s client base. Because Bionic Don Limited’s logo was almost identical to that of BeWise Digital Limited and the acronym (BDL) the same, some clients thought they were being contacted by BeWise Digital Limited. As a result of these emails, Joesph signed on two additional clients to Bionic Don Limited.
Becky got to know about this after some clients called her about the emails thinking they had come from her company.
This time Becky was properly armed. After Joseph broke away from BeWise Digital Limited, Becky envisaged that he might attempt to take away more of her clients so she got her lawyer to register trademarks to protect her company logo and designs. She wasn’t going to be caught off guard again. And Joseph would not get away with this a second time.
She promptly consulted her lawyer who drafted proceedings against Joseph’s company for infringement of BeWise Digital Limited registered trademark. The matter went to court and Becky won!
Joseph’s company was found guilty of infringement of a registered Trademark and was barred from conducting business using that logo. His company was also fined 2 million naira for damages. Joseph’s company almost went under… but he managed to survive.
In layman’s terms, a trademark is a symbol or sign which differentiates the goods and services of one business from another one. Trademarking your goods and services makes it a crime for another party that uses it. The Trademark Act defines a trademark as “a mark used or proposed to be used in relation to goods for the purpose of indicating, or so as to indicate, a connection in the course of trade between the goods and some person having the right either as proprietor or as registered user to use the mark, whether with or without any indication of the identity of that person” (prefer the layman’s definition right? Lol)
What can I trademark?
You can trademark your brand name, logo, slogan, domain name, design, color and so on.
Points to note
Nigerian trade mark registrations have an initial validity of seven (7) years, and are thereafter indefinitely renewable for periods of fourteen (14) years. An application for renewal should be made not less than three (3) months from the due date.
A trademark may be registered either plainly (black and white) or in colour. However, where a trademark is registered in colour, the protection afforded the Mark is limited to the specific colour(s) registered (someone else using the same logo but with different colours can get away with it). On the other hand, a plain (viz. black and white) registration affords protection to all colours of presentation of the trade mark.
Once again, please consult a legal practitioner to assist you with your trademark registration.
I hope you learnt something new today. Please share your thoughts. Thank you!