The Legal Protection of Intellectual Property Rights in the Cyberspace: Nigeria in Perspective

Author: Nwogu Mary Imelda Obianuju
Department: Law
Affiliation: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka

Intellectual property is that category of property acquired through intellectual exertion and creativity. It is intangible in nature but subject of legal ownership and consequently attracts monopoly rights. These rights are protected and regulated by Intellectual Property Law. Intellectual Property Law is an area of law that has not yet been fully explored. This is because people know little about the law. The primary aim of Intellectual Property Law is to protect from exploitation the fruits of somebody’s labour. The importance of protecting Intellectual Property Rights in the cyberspace and Internet as it affects Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. The advent of computer networking of which Internet is the commonest example has so much increased the abuse of intellectual property rights in Nigeria and the entire world. Hence, this work studied this property, the law regulating its protection in the cyberspace as it relates to Nigeria and the possible role of effective laws for fighting intellectual property infringement in the cyberspace, with a view to finding solutions where there are shortfalls and filling the gaps where there are lacunae. This research reveals that intellectual property infringement is alarmingly on the increase both at the terrestrial environment and at the cyberspace; while the old forms of infringement are on the increase, new forms of infringements emerged and increase with the passage of time. The spate of abuse and infringement of these rights by Nigerians have been alarmingly on the increase in the Internet and the cyberspace, that it is thus worrisome, yet Nigerian relevant extant laws have not adequately protected the subject of study. This work was predicated on the review of related and available literature on the subject matter and Internet materials. It adopted a historical, descriptive, analytical and comparative approach in the examination of laws, judicial interpretations, comments, articles, existing texts and Internet materials. Nevertheless, for the effective protection of intellectual property in the cyberspace, there must be effective and adequate legislation at the states and international levels for the regulation of intellectual property rights.The Nigerian extant laws should be amended to include protection of Internet intellectual property rights and also new legislations made where necessary. There must also be individual efforts of right owners outside the law to protect their property. There must also be public enlightenment of the people on the subject. Right owners should be prepared always to fight infringements at all levels. Consequently, there will be reduction of piracy and increasing pace of development in Nigeria and beyond.

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