As Nigeria joined the world to mark the World Intellectual Property Day, the United Nations Ambassador Mr. Osita Anaedu, has called for more effective regulation of Nigeria’s IP space, urging the country to set up an IP Commission.
Anaedu who disclosed that he had once written a letter to one of Nigeria’s President’s through the then NSA General Gusau on the need for an IP Commission, explained that the Commission would greatly boost Nigeria’s revenue earnings both from within and outside the country.
“Registrations of intellectual property had helped make the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) the richest UN Organization in the world and the only solvent UN agency,” he said, wondering why Nigeria as a country wasn’t tapping into the immense foreign exchange revenue generating potentials of intellectual property.
According to him his then proposal to set up the commission was approved but was bogged down by a disagreement between the Ministries of Science and Technology, Industry Trade and Investment, and Justice, over which of the Ministries should host the commission.
The Ambassador who was a former Technical Adviser Strategy at the office of the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization, was speaking at the World Intellectual Property Day celebrations organised in Abuja by IP First Group, an NGO focused on the development and promotion of intellectual property matters in Nigeria, in collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association/Section on Business Law and IDEA Police, under the 2019 theme, IP and Sports.
Anaedu noted that the global sports industry was worth over $500 billion with some estimates putting the figure at well over $1.3 trillion, with the US sports industry alone producing close to $100 billion.
Calling for greater sensitization efforts to increase the awareness of intellectual property amongst Nigerian sports professionals, he noted that Michael Jordan who no longer plays professional basketball still makes close to $600 million dollars from adverts and merchandising.
In his remarks, Mr. Shafiu Yauri the Registrar of Trademarks, emphasised that the registration of trademarks drives merchandising aspect of sports, which enables clubs and sports professionals to leverage their unique identifiers for the purpose of merchandising.
Intellectual property he further noted performs distinguishing and quality functions, which is guaranteed by *trademarks, patents and designs, which help guarantee a return on investment to the owners of the registered trademarks, patents or design.
Speaking on behalf of the DG of NOTAP, Mr. Smart Tuedor decried that Nigerian sports professionals have little idea about intellectual property and have not been able to take advantage of the benefits of IP to improve their earnings.
“Our sports professionals are living in penury, because they have failed to take advantage of intellectual property to improve their earnings” he said, while citing examples of some of them who have had to resort to public appeal in order to take care of their health challenges.
According to him, Usain Bolt’s sign after every win is today registered as an intellectual property while David Beckham has also registered his name, adding that with such registrations, they will continue to earn money even after retirement.
Reacting to the bickering between the ministries as to where to cite the IP Commission, Tuedor advised that it should be placed under the Presidency which would be a more neutral platform.
Afam Nwokedi, the Chairman IP Committee of the NBA/Section on Business Law and Head of Chambers, Still Waters Law Firm, who lamented the absence of sports men, musicians and inventors at the event despite being invited, observed that a possible reason for the sad state of affairs is the absence of an effective IP policy in Nigeria, which has rendered the IP space rudderless and without a clear sense of direction.
“Our greatest resources is our intellect, which is an inexhaustible treasure trove that far outweigh the value of all the gold in Zamfara, and all the oil in Bayelsa which are exhaustible resources,” Nwokedi said.
Mr. Jamilu A.K. Ibrahim the Editor-in-Chief of Readers Gazette, speaking in his capacity as the IP First’s General Secretary, noted that the theme IP and Sports wasn’t limited to the activities of the Intellectual Property day. April 26th marks the beginning of the IP calendar year, he observed and the theme IP and Sports will dominate activities throughout the year.
He also promised that the NGO will further engage the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and other sports bodies in the country with the view to creating activities that would increase the awareness of IP amongst our sports professionals.