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The patent in simple terms allows a person or inventor, for a limited period of time, to have the exclusive right to profit from an invention within a country. This right is valid for as long as the patent states. People register patents to make sure that they can profit commercially from their innovative inventions. Typically, the rights are granted to the “statutory inventor” who is usually defined as the first person to file and register the patent. The requirements for registering a patent demand that the product or products must be:
- Have a new step that is not previously known to someone with knowledge and experience in the field or subject.
- The invention must not be at odds with public policy or “morality”.
- Be of use in industrial capacity of some sort and must not be a scientific or mathematical discovery, theory or method, a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, a way of performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business, the presentation of information, or some computer programs, an animal or plant variety, a method of medical treatment or diagnosis.
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So how does one register a patent, you ask. The process goes thus:
- Make sure the invention is not already patented by someone else by conducting a thorough search. If the search comes out positive, then you may apply for a patent.
- A petition for a patent is signed through the applicant himself or his agent (lawyer). The application usually contains (i) the applicant’s full name and address (ii) a specification including the said claim(s) in duplicate as well as plans and drawings also in duplicate.
- The inventor signs a declaration that he/she be mentioned as a true inventor in the patent and as such he gives both his name and address. This is done where appropriate, of course.
- A signed power of attorney (lawyer) or authorization of agent if the application is made through an agent.
- An address for service will be required if the inventor lives outside Nigeria and thereafter, the prescribed fee is then to be paid. The patent is valid for 20 years once it is granted.
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