Nigerian Trademark Alphabet Part 2: The Companies' Names

29 November 2008

As promised, here is the list of companies to go with the trademark alphabet.


B – Mr. Bigg’s B logo

C – Chams C

D – Disney D

E – Eva E

F – Fanta F

G – Glo G

H – Hyundai H logo

I – Intercontinental bank I logo

J – Johnson and Johnson’s J

K – Kenyan Airways K logo


M – Marriott M logo

N – Nokia N

O – Oceanic O logo

P – Peugeot P

Q – Apple Quicktime Q

R – Rolls Royce Rs

S – Sheraton S logo


U – Unilever U logo

V – Virgin/Virgin Nigeria V

W – Microsoft Word logo

X – Exxon double x’s

Y – Yahoo Y logo

Z – Zenith Z logo

trademark alphabet

Nigerian Trademark Alphabet

26 November 2008

I got the idea for this trademark alphabet from my own Trademarks professor, Judge Kent A. Jordan.  It teaches students how important and valuable trademarks are by showing the students how easily they associate the marks with the products/services the marks represent.

trademark alphabet

Obviously, the marks belong to their respective companies.  I am making no claim to copyright in any selection or organization of the marks.  I am posting this here in case it can be of use to anyone else in Nigeria or elsewhere. Please take, use and adapt it.

This alphabet was created for use in teaching Nigerian secondary students about trademark law.  I tried to select marks that would at least be familiar to the average Nigerian, even if the companies themselves are not Nigerian.  For some, such as the letter "Q," I just had to settle for what I could find.  Suggestions of better marks are welcome.

Just to make it a little interesting, and to keep you tuned, the companies will  appear on Sunday's post.

Developing Decent Digital Distribution Solutions

23 November 2008

A couple of press releases recently caught the Ippers' attention.  Two groups are each working to ensure that fans get their digital music and artists get their money, but they're working from different angles.

Getting the Infringers to Fight Infringement

Freshman at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, politely called "first-year students," are developing a new distribution system for the music industry.  The project is part of a seminar called "Stealing in Music City."  In addition to their own perspective as the ones trying to get the music, the students will have the input of various industry stakeholders and experts, including Alice Randall and this Ipper's own copyright professor, Steven Hetcher.  Hopefully the students have some very interesting and viable ideas.  The class will present its three solutions in class next week Tuesday.  Ip's What's Up will let you know when we hear about any of them.  (Full press release.)

Europe Re-Evaluates Collective Management

This week, WIPO is also looking at the affect of the digital age on music distribution.  The Conference to Examine Future Development of Collective Management of Copyright and Related Rights in Europe meets this week Monday and Tuesday in Brussels.  The 400+ participants are listed to include: "collective management organizations, lawyers, academia, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, developers of digital technology and services and creative industries."  Where are the users?  Looks like the student group at Vanderbilt might be smaller but more comprehensive in its stakeholder input. (Full press release.  Conference Info.)

It's great that collecting rights organizations in Europe are engaging in discourse about the changes in the industry and the role they can play in facilitating positive developments.  Some other countries could use a few good collecting organization conferences, especially in the developing world.  (Africa, the Middle East, India.)

Nigeria and the Special Case of the USTR Special 301 Report Pt. 2

19 November 2008

This is part two of a two part series looking at Nigeria's status in regards to the US Trade Representative Special 301 Report.  In part 1, we discussed the praise the Nigerian Copyright Commission and its Director General, Adebambo Adewopo, have received for getting Nigeria removed from the USTR Special 301 Report.  Today, we are looking at what's really going on.

Quick Recap

For two years, the Nigerian press and various government officials have been citing Nigeria's removal from the Special 301 List as proof of the Nigerian Copyright Commission's success in its war on piracy.  This "list" is the USTR Special 301 Report.  The report actually includes three lists, each containing countries whose laws or practices have adverse affects on IPRs: Priority Foreign Countries, Priority Watch List, and Watch List.

The Real Deal

It seems somewhere along the way, someone in Nigeria got confused.  Nigeria was never on any of the lists contained in the Special 301 Report, at least not this century.  Previous reports appear to only be available from the Library of Congress.  (Thank you to a very kind reference librarian at Vanderbilt University for that information.)  A few Special 301 Reports have mentioned Nigeria, but always to cite activities from the past year that have protected IPR.  (Special 301 Reports from 2002 through the current year are available at the USTR website; the 2001 report is available here.)

The closest Nigeria has come to being on these lists has been inclusion in the International Intellectual Property Alliance's (IIPA) reports suggesting which countries the USTR should place on the various lists contained in the Special 301 Report.  IIPA is a group of trade associations that, among other things, assists the US Trade Representative with its Special 301 Report.  IIPA prepares its own report of suggestions for the USTR to consider in compiling its report.  (IIPA Reports from 2001-2008 available here.)

IIPA first gave Nigeria a "special mention" in 2005, citing outrageous piracy levels in sound recordings and the proliferation of optical disc replicating plants.  Concerns over optical disc plants kept Nigeria in this section through 2006Last year, IIPA suggested putting Nigeria on the Watch List.  This year, the organization made the same suggestion.  So in fact, Nigeria is closer than ever to being listed in the Special 301 Report.  Rather than celebrating the "accomplishment" of being taken off a list they were never on, members of the Nigerian intellectual property community should be working hard to reverse the trend of increased attention from IIPA.  This will help Nigeria stay off the Special 301 Report lists.

Nigeria and the Special Case of the USTR Special 301 Report Pt. 1

16 November 2008

For the past two years Nigeria has been praising the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) and its Director General, Adebambo Adewopo, for getting Nigeria removed from the Special 301 Lists. But inside sources say Nigeria was not removed from the Special 301 List, because Nigeria was never on the Special 301 List. This makes the Ippers ask "what's up?"

A two part series, we'll look first at what the Nigerian Press has been saying, and then at what's really going on.

The Special 301 List

What the Nigerians refer to as the Special 301 Lists is actually part of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report. This report "highlights shortfalls in intellectual property protection" and "acknowledges progress" by US trading partners. (Spicy IP has a good overview of the Special 301 Report and the controversy surrounding it.) The Report includes the following lists of countries whose laws or practices have adverse affects on IPRs: Priority Foreign Countries, Priority Watch List, and Watch List.

Nigeria's "Removal"

The first reports of Nigeria's removal from the Special 301 List came in May 2007. A Nigerian newspaper, The Vanguard, and an online news source, nun gu entertainment, both carried the story. "US delists Nigeria from piracy blackist, as govt moves to enforce IP regulation," read the online headline. Both articles cited the Deputy Economic Consular at the US Embassy as the source of the news. The online story also carried a direct quote, "We have decided to keep Nigeria off any of the 301 lists this year." Keep Nigeria off, not remove.

From there, other articles, editorials and speeches included the news. An article in Sun News used the "delisting" as evidence that Adewopo was doing a great job at the NCC and anyone saying otherwise was involved in a smear campaign against him. Lagos IP law firm Aluko & Oyebode included the wonderful news in their July newsletter.

In a few short months the removal of Nigeria from the Special 301 List was being touted as one of the NCC's greatest achievements. The Chief Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation congratulated Adewopo on his achievement. The President of the Federation also commended the NCC for its anti-piracy work.

By the beginning of 2008, the story had changed a bit. Several papers carried an article citing a June 2007 letter from the Former US Ambassador to Nigeria as the source of the information about Nigeria's delisting. Added to this was also a statement from the Attorney General that "Government was aware that until now, the country had always been on the U.S. Special 301, adding that the President has deemed the Commission as deserving of commendation in creating an enabling environment for the country’s unprecedented delisting." (The same info was carried in Sunday Benjamin's article in The Daily Trust.)

Stories about Nigeria's amazing feat spread beyond the country's borders. picked it up just a few months ago:

Recently, the Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC) got a rare pat on the back when the United States removed Nigeria from the Special 301 Lists of countries blacklisted for condoning intellectual property theft in recognition of the renewed battle against the increasing spate of piracy and counterfeiting.

In various seminars and paper presentations around the country, members of the Nigerian government continue to sing praises of the NCC's anti-piracy programs to the tune of the Special 301 delisting.

But the question remains, was Nigeria really removed from the lists in the USTR Special 301 Report?

Anybody Feel Like Starting a Collecting Society?

12 November 2008

Nigeria is desperately in need of one.

What is a Collecting Society?

For those who are unfamiliar, a collecting society is an intermediary between the user of a work and the owner of the copyright in the work.  An artist's work can be used by millions of people any where in the world at any time.  Logistically, it's impossible for one artist to monitor all the possible places where the work might be used.  The collecting society pools the resources of many artists and does this monitoring for the artists collectively.  There are many different types of collecting societies, such as performing rights organizations and reproduction rights organizations.state of collecting societies in Nigeria

The Situation in Nigeria

There are currently no collecting societies in Nigeria.  This has been the situation for the past three years.  Grab some popcorn, and enjoy a little drama-filled story.

One, Two, None - the Background

Once upon a time Nigeria was a British colony.  The British Performing Right Society (PRS) represented the colony's musical artists.  Sometime after gaining independence, Nigeria decided it didn't want any foreign owned companies operating inside it's borders.  So the Nigerian section of PRS became MCSN, Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria.  And everything was fine.... Or so it seemed.

The Nigerian government was concerned that the lone collecting society was taking advantage of the artists, taking too much of the royalties for itself and not accounting completely for what it had collected.  The government decided to do something about this and issued the 1992 Copyright (Amendment) Decree.  (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 Cap. 28 Sec. 39.)  This decree authorized the Nigerian Copyright Commission to set up regulations for collecting societies and required collecting societies to register with the Nigerian Copyright Commission.  The Commission's regulations went into effect in 1993.  (Copyright (Collecting Society) Regulations, 1993.)

MCSN applied for approval but was denied.  The Commission said that MCSN was being sneaky, not disclosing enough information about the royalties it was collecting for its artists.  Like the Itsy-Bitsy Spider continually going up the water spout, MCSN kept renewing their application, but down came the Commission and denied it every time.

The Commission did recognize the importance of collecting societies, so, in 1994, it helped form a new organization, PMRS, Performing and Mechanical Rights Society of Nigeria.  This made MCSN really angry.  Some people thought there should only be one collecting society in the country, and MCSN was there first.  MCSN kept trying for approval, and the Commission finally granted the approval in 2005.  Within six months the President of Nigeria revoked the approval and removed the Director General of the Commission.  The Director General's law firm had represented MCSN in the past and the President felt there had been a conflict of interest.

Somewhere in all of this PMRS and MCSN discussed merging.  The merger talks fell apart, and during this time PMRS's registration lapsed.  And then there were none.

How the Situation Sits Today

Both MCSN and PMRS claim to be proper collecting societies in Nigeria (as can be seen from their websites.)  Both are currently suing the Nigerian Copyright Commission.  Neither can collect royalties for their supposed clients.  Artist are not getting paid, and they're losing out on other opportunities.

International companies, such as MTV, don't know who to pay, so they don't pay anyone.  Nigerian superstar D'banj recently explained to the House Committee on Information & National Orientation that he and several other Nigerian music stars have well over $30,000 each sitting in a bank account in South Africa.  In MTV's bank account.  MTV doesn't know who to pay, so it's holding the money until it knows who to pay.  It's nice that MTV isn't spending the money, but the artists would really like to get it sooner than later.  In the meantime, the artists don't get paid.

Whenever MCSN or PMRS attempt to bring a lawsuit on behalf of one of their artists for infringing performances, the court throws the suit out citing a lack of standing by the plaintiffs.  Restaurants, hotels, bars, clubs and even radio stations know they can't be sued for playing music without paying royalties.  They play whatever they want, whenever they want.  (On the upside for listeners, this produces a lot of really neat remixes, recently featuring a number of Obama's speeches mixed-in.)  The artists don't get paid.

D'banj has also highlighted another way in which the lack of collecting societies is hurting artists.  Nigerian artists are losing opportunities to reach world-class stardom (and at least get royalties from other countries).  International superstars (including R.Kelly and Snoop Dogg) have approached Nigerian artists about doing collaborations.  These types of collaborations could turn Nigerian artists like D'banj or 2Face into the next Akon, a household name around the world.  But the deals fall through.  Why?  As D'banj put it, the artists ask a simple question for which there is no answer, "How do we get our royalty?"

The Questions

Now, being a lowly little intern with no collecting society experience, this sad soap has left this Ipper with some questions.  Perhaps some fellow IP enthusiasts can shed some light on the subject.

Why can't the artists just collect the money MTV owes them by themselves?  Does it have something to do with agreements they may have signed with MCSN or PMRS?  Is MTV somehow prevented from working directly with artists?

Is there any reason interested people with the available capital couldn't come in and start a new collecting society in Nigeria?  One that complied with the provisions of the Copyright Act (Sec. 32B in this version) and the Collecting Society Regulations?  Would the government allow it?  And if it is possible, where can we find these interested people with available capital?  The artists are suffering.

And lastly, can the international superstars stop worrying about getting their own money from Nigeria and collaborate with these amazing Nigerian artists anyway?  Please!



Image credits: map outline from; D'banj photo courtesy of goldenrail; 200 Naira notes courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica; 5, 20, 50, 100 and 1000 Naira notes courtesy of Statni vlajky sveta; diagonal bills courtesy of Hit Naira; all images (minus D'banj photo) found using Creative Commons, but I couldn't always find information regarding the license for the images.

Open source proponents are for strong copyright protection

09 November 2008

Open source proponents get a bad rap when it comes to copyright. Often, they are called anti-copyright or copyleft. On some level, it makes sense. Open source software is advertised as being free as in freedom, and free as in free beer. Yet, when thinking about copyright law and restrictions, the last word that comes to mind is free. However, open source proponents are not actually anti-copyright. Think about it… They can't be. Copyleft or open source could not exist without copyright. Open source is actually a world away from what would truly be free in the world of IP, and that's the public domain.

Copyright laws enable the creators of open source software to make code available through an open source license (usually the General Public License). This license is what forces the users of the open source code to keep it open. In contrast, one could not force a user to make code in the public domain open even if one used that code to create a derivative work.

Thus, enforcing an open source license is really using copyright laws in full force. One is barring people from using code the way they might want to unless they agree to make the code open. That is clearly using copyright law to restrict the way one's work is used. It may bar some people from using the code at all. One might even argue that forcing code to remain open is more restrictive than keeping code closed, because people with closed code typically need not invoke copyright law. No one will ever have access to the code to be copied, so copyright becomes a moot point with closed code.

Thus, in reality, open source actually embraces copyright in its current form. It uses the protections of copyright more than closed source code does. It's not really anti-copyright. The only difference between open and closed source code with respect to copyright are the conditions being forced on the user. However, the restrictions are ever present in both. Open source restrictions utilize copyright to its fullest, giving the creator exclusive control over their work to keep it their code open.

A Spectrum of Perspectives

05 November 2008

There is a common axiom that you should not discuss politics or religion at a dinner party. But what about intellectual property? One part of the Ip's What's Up team found out that this topic can be just as impassioning as the others.

This past weekend I had the opportunity of attending a friend's birthday party. A birthday party is probably one of the last places you would expect to find much conversation about intellectual property, but we had plenty. The various opinions seemed to represent a good cross-section of different perspectives on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), so I think it could be helpful to offer a little recap.

[This video and the sound recording in it are under a different license than the blog post.  Video: cc by-sa 2008 goldenrail.  Sound recording in the video: "nunoo" cc by-sa 2004 maki,]

[Technical difficulties?  If the video does not appear above, you can watch it at youtube.]

Stronger is Better

First, I spoke with an Economic Counselor for the United States. He had met with the local government earlier in the week to check on the progress in its war on piracy. The local government has worked closely with the United States and other developed nations in effort to strengthen its IP laws and increase the level of copyright enforcement in the country. This gentleman clearly represented the camp working for stronger IPR, as well as the international relations and trade aspect concerns that are part of IPR.

Intellectual property is now one of the biggest commodities developed nations have. In order for these countries to reap the maximum benefits, the whole world needs to have strong intellectual property laws. Countries with large creative industries work hard to help make this happen. People on the developing country side can also be in this group. They want stronger protection in order to encourage foreign investment and often to protect their growing creative industries.  Stronger IP laws protect their domestic creations as much, or even more so, than foreign ones.

What Good is Protection if I Can't Get the Goods?

Next, I spoke to someone on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, a British NGO-worker who decried the lack of books in the country. "We just need more books, I don't care if they're copied or not!" she exclaimed. Here is one of the common arguments against increased copyright enforcement in the country. The legal supply clearly doesn't meet the demand. For those who want the products but cannot find legitimate copies, especially for things like text books, copyright seems like nothing more than a barrier to development.

Supply that cannot meet demand is not just a problem in the book industry. Two years ago the demand for Nigerian Home Videos in Nigeria was estimated at 50 million buyers, but only about 500,000 legitimate copies were produced. (NCC Committed to National Copyright Policy & Reform, 10 NCC Copyright Bulletin December, 2006 Vol. 3 No. 6, ed. Charles O. Obi.) Similar circumstances exist elsewhere, with music industries in many developing countries, and even to some extent in developed countries when dealing with out-of-print books and such.

Consumers who are generally concerned with copyright often justify obtaining infringing copies of these types of materials. They point out that the author wouldn't be receiving anything if they didn't buy the infringing copy because they cannot buy a legitimate copy. They may also blame the author for the shortage of legal goods.

Eh, So What?

Near the end of the evening, I had an encounter with a third group. Those who really don't care about or pay attention to IPR. Sometimes they are ignorant of the laws; sometimes, they just do not care. In this case, they were most likely the later. A high up government official from a developed country handed a higher-up official from the same country a clearly pirated DVD of an American Television series. For these people, piracy and infringement are matters for other people, for governments, enforcement agencies and private rights holders. They did not create the copy; they did not sell it; they are just 'innocent' purchasers.

This seems to be a very large group, and it blends into other groups, people who believe it is ok to make a copy of a cd for a friend, those who indiscriminately clip artwork from internet sites. It is highly likely that we have all fallen into this group at some time or another, and many people may be in this group with regards to some IP while falling into another group in regards to other IP.

In Between the Extremes

Of course, there are plenty of groups that care about IP but fall somewhere between the extremes represented at the party. There are organizations who want to change the system without chucking IP protection completely out the window or creating a single strict set of laws for the whole world. The trick for all these groups is balancing the interests of everyone involved, including the points of view above.

What the Google Book Agreement Tells Us about Copyright

02 November 2008

There's been quite an uproar since release of the proposed settlement agreement between Google and the Author's Guild/Association of American Publishers.  A lot of people are discussing the settlement itself (including us here at Ip's What's Up), but this settlement agreement tells us about more than just the relationship between the parties.  It also provides us a lens through which to analyze the current state of our copyright system.

Good Things

The best thing about the proposed settlement agreement is simply that it's a settlement agreement.   The parties have found a solution without going through the whole litigation process, a solution that makes each participant feel that they are coming away in a better position than if they continued with the litigation.  Page six of the settlement agreement expresses this well:

WHEREAS, Plaintiffs and Class Counsel conclude that this Settlement
Agreement is fair, reasonable, adequate and in the best interests of the Settlement Class in
light of the risks inherent in prosecuting the Action and the benefits obtained under this
Settlement Agreement.

I'm not necessarily talking about the actual settlement being good.  There's a lot of discussion out there on whether that's the case.  [The comments section of Lessig's post has some good discussion on the merits of the agreement, as does Medialoper.]  It's encouraging just to see private parties recognizing each others' rights and sorting out their differences without getting the government involved.

One commonly recognized purpose of copyright is to create a balance between the interests of creators and consumers.  Over the past decade, there has been a lot of criticism that copyright laws have lost sight of this.  The Google settlement, by focusing on creating the right balance, shows us that the copyright system can still work towards achieving this goal.

Wendy Seltzer suggests that the registry system created by the agreement seems more like something we should expect the government to provide.  But I disagree.  It makes more sense to me for the stakeholders to create a registry like this than to lobby the government for the creation of such an entity at taxpayers' expense.  The parties involved in this settlement are going to have a better idea of what's needed and of what's important for the registry than the government would.  Google has the funds (which the settlement requires them to use) for a large venture like this.   Additionally, as Lessig remarks, this arrangement allows "anyone who wants to build a competing and complementary database."  Besides, US collecting and performance rights societies aren't government run, and they seem to work well.  It's exciting to see the willingness of private parties to invest in the future of a copyright industry.


Here, We Still Need Some Work

The agreement also points to one glaring problem with the current copyright system: borders and boundaries.  Everything in the agreement only affects Google Book users in the United States, even though it affects authors from around the world.  This is because copyright, despite the many treaties, is national law.

The parties involved in the agreement brought suit in the United States  (District Court for Southern District of New York, to be exact).  The court does not have jurisdiction beyond the United States, and thus cannot make rulings or approve settlements that would affect laws in other areas.  This is good; we don't want the courts of one nation being able to dictate laws for other countries.  Unfortunately, the results of this division aren't always good.

Thanks to the Berne convention, authors from nearly every country in the world have their works protected in the US by US copyright law.  The same goes for their works in many other countries under those countries' copyright laws.  All the foreign authors whose works are protected in the US are part of the class involved in this agreement (unless they choose to opt out).  Yet, this agreement has absolutely no affect in their own countries. 

It seems strange to put geographical boundaries on something as open and location-agnostic as the internet, but it happens all the time.  Pandora isn't available outside the US.  Music fans around the world complain about not having access to the hundreds of music videos MTV posted online (and unfairly blame MTV for this).  Our laws are territorial, our communications are not. 

Unfortunately, the Google agreement does nothing to help in this area.  It's unclear if there is a forum that would have allowed the parties to come to an agreement applicable to the entire world.  Perhaps something like the International Arbitration Centre for Copyright & Image Rights (IACCI) could be utilized for this purpose.

Hopes for the Future

The Google settlement agreement leaves me with two main hopes for the future of copyright:

  1. That the music industry can find a way to reach similar agreements instead of just suing the $&%* out of everyone and making the government their private task force;
  2. That as agreements like this continue to be worked out in other areas of copyright, IP law, and trade, we can find some way to harmonize the world's access to information.