For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Friday, 15 June 2012

One in the eye for INEC as patent trumps elections in Nigeria

Some Bedding is more comfy
than others ... *
Back in December 2010, thanks to some assiduous work by the Kat's friend Kingsley Egbuonu, the blog carried this report on Bedding Holdings v INEC & Others, a most unusual patent injunction saga which pitched the enforcement of intellectual property rights against the public interest in holding fair elections (this case was also covered on Afro-IP here). Via the same enthusiastic source the IPKat has now learned (here, here and here) that the claimant patentee has emerged successful after trial, his Electronic Collapsible Transparent Ballot Box patent having been infringed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).  Kingsley adds:
"The 'supposed' copy of the Court’s judgment which was handed down by Adamu Bello J, sitting in the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday 5 June 2012, contains six declarations and a perpetual injunction: the sixth declaration and the injunction may have the combined disastrous effect of nullifying all elections conducted in 2011 and preventing future elections using the claimant's patented products.

While we expect individuals to respect the rights of intellectual property owners, we should also expect the state, agents or those acting in the interest of the state, to do the same. Generally, this is good news for IP owners (especially genuine local innovative and creative companies) but also, though unfortunate, good news for constitutional lawyers in Nigeria as the political chaos this may create is beyond imagination. On the brighter side for IP enthusiasts, this means that the Nigerian government will now become more IP-sensitive in its policy-making. 
We hope the losing party can somehow settle this and/or obtain a licence to bring this matter to an end. Sadly, it has found itself as the weaker party on the bargaining table. 
Kingsley promises a full case commentary on this latest development once he has had the chance to consider the judgment in detail -- and that will appear on the Afro-IP blog.

* Cat bedding by Red Dog Dezigns, here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The most interesting fact is that the case was unopposed - there was an order for substituted service (publication in a newspaper and on a notice board in the court building)and the defendants did not appear. It is most odd that the plaintiff was unable to effect personal service on the Registrar of Patents, the Minisrty of Commerce and the INEC. I await the next installment with interest!

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