AFCFTA: Nigeria IP at Risk, Business lawyers say

 By Henry Uche 

Business Lawyers have maintained that Nigeria’s intellectual property (IP) is at risk since the advent of internet and digital disruption in the business world; this is even as discussions and consultations on exploring the opportunities embedded in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) continues.

“While countries are exploring the opportunities of AFCFTA, the creative industry in Nigeria is being threatened the more following Nigeria’s non-membership with the African Regional Intellectual Property organization (ARIPO) which has with it, enormous benefits including collaboration with other African Countries,” they maintained.

According to a Commercial Dispute Resolution Lawyer, Prince Nwafuru, Nigeria has been missing out from the ARIPO which grants and administers IP titles on behalf of its member states and provides IP information to its clientele in the form of search services, publications and awareness creation.

At the 2021 Legal Business Conference put together by Legal Business Network (LBN) in Lagos, Nwafuru added that, “the implications of this kind of collaboration, which Article 4 of the Treaty spelt out may be difficult if we still stand aloof from ARIPO, thus our non- membership is a bad signal. So we need to show leadership, more so, the Federal Government must review and update business laws and policies both internal, bilateral and beyond, with the aim of protecting our Intellectual Property (IP), local contents. 

“Government should redirect its energy and other resources to sound laws and policies that would boost the potential of young people and to position them well to compete favourably anywhere in the world as a strategy of reviving the economy; instead of dwelling on Politics all the time which has not yielded any desired result,” he stressed. On her part, the Founder, LBN, Ifeoma Ben, who spoke on the theme, “Entertainment Law & Business: Issues & Opportunities”, said as the entertainment industry grows rapidly, so are legal issues and challenges peculiar with the sector emerging alongside like IP theft, copyright issues, breach of contract among others which must be addressed.

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