The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has identified the necessity of frequent intellectual discourse among Judges and experts as a panacea for sustaining the country’s Intellectual Property (IP) system within the global developmental framework. This was disclosed by the Director General of the Commission, Mr. Afam Ezekude in his welcome address at the two days Follow-up Practical Continuing Education Program on Intellectual Property (IP) for Judges in Nigeria, held at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja, from 26th to 27th November, 2018.
Mr. Ezekude noted that the rapid pace of development in the field of creativity and IP in contemporary times have made periodic refresher courses and provision of practical learning tools to the judiciary indispensible to facilitate the efficient discharge of their mandate.
The programme, which was the highpoint of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Pilot Project on Intellectual Property rights education and professional training with Judicial Training Institutions In developing and least developed countries, commenced two years ago with the execution of a tripartite cooperation agreement between WIPO, the National Judicial Institute (NJI) and the Nigerian Copyright Commission.
In its quest to build capacity for efficient and effective national IP education for judges, Nigeria was selected by WIPO as the only country in Africa, along with three other countries representing other regions of the World, to undertake the pilot phase of the Project. In furtherance of this laudable initiative, WIPO in collaboration with the Commission in July 2018 organized a Train the Trainers’ workshop for a corps of IP experts who would serve as facilitators for the project.
The follow-up capacity building for judges was held to provide the trained experts the opportunity to offer real training sessions on IP to Nigerian Judges; and for the participating Judges to discuss selected cases on IP; assess the customized training modules designed for training of Judges in Nigeria with a view to strengthening continuous training on IP under the Purview of NJI’s regular programmes; and evaluate the likely benefits of the project in Nigeria.
The two days programme witnessed robust and interactive presentations and discussions on various IP topics by judges and experts including; Copyright and Related Rights; Undisclosed Information or Trade Secrets; Trademarks; Industrial Designs and Patents.
Following the highly interactive and educative discussions, Participants observed the need for repeal of some of the obsolete legislations on IP and enactment of new laws that will reflect current developments in global IP arena and to enable the Judiciary to respond appropriately to challenges of new issues in IP adjudication.
In his remarks, the representative of the Director General of WIPO, Mr. Mohammed Abderraouf Bdioui, Project Manager and Senior Counselor of the WIPO Academy, highlighted the positive impacts and benefits of the project to include; the development of customized modules on IP dedicated to Nigerian Judges; the development of instructors manual; organisation of online and face to face continuing education sessions; provision of a selection of bibliographical materials; establishment of a national electronic network for judges to exchange information and experiences on IP matters; and providing access to a specialized global database of more than 3.5 million court cases on IP.
While appreciating the interest and commitment of participants in the Project, Mr. Bdioui disclosed that WIPO will continue to support Nigeria in its quest to sustain the project within the regular programmes of the NJI, and that WIPO has already earmarked funds for subsequent organisation of similar exercise. He also informed Participants that there is opportunity for Judges in Nigeria to participate in a broader continuing education session through the International forum established for judges, at the headquarters of WIPO in Geneva, Switzerland.
The National Consultant of the project, Mr. John Asein, in his remarks at the opening session noted that the project is a ‘work in progress’ as a continuous interface will be established with NJI to take the project to the next level.
The representative of the Dean of Studies NJI, Mr. Mike Nduchebe while appreciating WIPO and NCC for the collaboration in organizing the programme, stated that the offer for Judges to be enlisted on the special global and national network of Judges on IP will be relayed through the Board of Governors of NJI headed by the Honorable Chief Justice of Nigeria, to facilitate a proper dissemination of the information among heads of various courts to enable Judges enroll into the programme.
Participating Judges at the programme were drawn from the Federal High Court. The Federal High Court is constitutionally vested with exclusive jurisdiction for IP subject matters.