03 Jan



Intellectual property law is the body of laws which protect the outcome of intellectual activity.

May be industrial, scientific, artistic, literary, and so on.

The world thrives on ideas and works of creative individuals.

The law of intellectual property protects:

  • Copyright
  • Trademarks: Identify the source of a particular good. The link between the proprietor and the market.
  • Patents: Protects new inventions and how things function.
  • Industrial designs: protects shape, designs and other aesthetic features.


The law of intellectual property strives to balance two competing interest

  1. The protection of creators and their works.
  2. Safeguarding the interest of the public to access the works of such creators and gain knowledge and satisfaction.

Intellectual property has a human right dimension can be seen in the provisions of Section 27 of the UDHR and Section 16 of the ICESC which seeks to balance the two competing claims mentioned above.


  1. Natural law theory: The Lockeian justification. Positing that the state should protect persons who labour upon commonly held resources. For example, a pharmacist, exploiting nature and finding a cure for an ailment.
  2. Economic theory: Posits that when creators are protected, they are able to recover investments and cost spent in production.
  3. Reward incentive theory: That creators should be rewarded for their services to the society. So that they would work harder and more people would be encouraged to create and innovate.
  4. Development theory: that intellectual property is a means to an end which is the realization of public interest and development. Because the protection would encourage innovation while also rewarding the creators.




Traced to England with the introduction of printing and photocopying.

The crown, (in a bid to prevent the circulation of harmful, heretical, seditious or offensive materials) monitored and protected the printing of books. The stationers company (printers) wanted protect the right of authors.

The Statute of Anne enacted in 1709 (during the reign of Queen Anne) was the first truly copyright statute of England. Under the Act,

  • Registration of the book with the stationers company before publication was a condition precedent for protection.
  • Stationers had the power to seize and destroy books that were in contravention of the provision of the Act.
  • Protection lasted for 14 years from the first publication. Another 14 years can be added if the author is still alive.

Subsequently, various Acts were enacted. However, the Copyright Act of 1911 of Britain was enacted to fuse all other statutes pertaining to copyright. This Act was extended to apply to the protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria.

The Berne convention and the Berlin revision of the convention removed the condition of pre-registration of works.

In 1970, the first indigenous copyright act of Nigeria was enacted. It repealed the 1911 act. The 1970 act faced some shortcomings and criticisms. It was eventually replaced by the 1988 Copyright Act which has undergone some amendments.

Presently, the Copyrights Act 1988 deals with the administration and enforcement of copyright in Nigeria. It is supplemented by other regulations they include;

  • Copyright (Reciprocal Extension) Order, 1972.
  • Copyright (Video Rental) regulation 1999,
  • Copyright (Optical Disk Plants) regulation 2006 to mention a few.

The 1988 Act improved over the 1970 act and now provides for;

  • The Nigerian Copyrights Commission (NCC) which is the copyright licensing body in Nigeria. Under Section
  • Simultaneous institution of civil and criminal suits against an infringer.
  • Copyright inspectors with powers of the police.


Quite eccentric really

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