MSME & INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
Many MSMEs proprietors are of the belief that once a business name, company, or partnership has been registered as a legal entity, it is sufficient to own their intellectual property rights. A name registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and a name or mark registered as a trademark with the Trademarks and Patent Registry are two different things. This means the name is protected by the two registrations’ rights, which are derived from different authorities.
A trademark identifies and provides information about the origin or quality of goods and services of the enterprise, while registration with the CAC, protects the name of the enterprise or company. The World Intellectual Property Organization provides a clear explanation of what intellectual property is by stating the following:
Intellectual Property (IP) refers to the creation of mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Intellectual Property (IP) is protected by the law, by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create.
The relevance of Intellectual property to MSMEs cannot be overemphasized, because of its importance towards innovation and creativity, which in turn creates jobs and boosts competitiveness. The literary and entertainment industries have so far demonstrated the importance of IP towards originality and growth in their various spheres which is worthy of emulation by MSMEs.
Under IP, there exist other types of IP which include:
1. Patent: Patent rights are protected under the Patent and Designs Act of 1970. A patent is a grant by a country to an inventor of an exclusive monopoly, the right to preclude another person from exploiting, making, using, importing, or selling invention his invention without his consent for a fixed period of twenty (20) years.
In accordance with Section 3 of PDA, the patent application must be submitted in the prescribed format, which must include the applicant’s full name, address, a description of the relevant invention, any necessary plans and drawings, a specification, a claim or claims, and any other information that may be specified, along with the prescribed fee.
2. Copyright: This area of IP grants protection automatically upon compliance with the requirement of law which provides that the work has been fixed in any medium of expression known or later to be developed, from which it can be perceived, reproduced or otherwise communicated either directly or with the aid of any machine or device.
The following broad categories of works, including literary works, musical works, artistic works, cinematographic works, sound recordings, and broadcasts, are listed as eligible for copyright protection in the Copyright Act.
3. Industrial Design: Industrial Design focuses mainly on any aesthetic feature of a company or organization. According to the Patent and Designs Act, an industrial design includes any colours, combination of lines (or even both), or three-dimensional forms (whether having colours or not), of which is the intent of the maker to use as a model or pattern, which will be multiplied by the industrial process. Simply, an industrial design is an aesthetic feature that makes the product identifiable in the market.
It is important that an industrial design is moral and not contrary to the public, otherwise, it will not be accepted for registration. Yes, it is compulsory to register the industrial design, and the registration lasts for a period of 5 years. It is then renewed twice, for a period of 5 years each.