Cablegate: Nigeria: Copyright and Trademark Officials Desire More Usg

DE RUEHUJA #2177/01 3091325
P 041325Z NOV 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. ABUJA 2146
B. LAGOS 405
C. ABUJA 1364
D. ABUJA 1039

1. (SBU) Summary. During the USG Intellectual Property Working
Group (IPWG) October 27-28 visit to Abuja, Nigerian intellectual
property rights officials expressed appreciation for USG technical
assistance (TA). The goal of the visit was to hear from GON
agencies on progress and steps taken since the IP digital video
conference in April 2008. It appears that lack of institutional
will is the main problem at the Nigerian Copyrights Commission (NCC)
hampering efforts to boost enforcement activities and prosecutions.
The Trademarks, Patent and Designs Registry of the Nigerian Ministry
of Commerce and Industry has leveraged USG technical assistance (TA)
to transform its effectiveness and to gain additional resources from
the Ministry. In-fighting regarding draft legislation hampers
inter-agency cooperation and effectiveness, but is unlikely to go
away. This is the first of two reporting cables on the visit. End

2. (U) On October 27 and 28, 2008 the IPWG met with Nigerian IP
officials to discuss progress in protecting IP. The framework for
these ongoing discussions is the Trade and Investment Framework
Agreement (TIFA) between Nigeria and the U.S. The IPWG was led by
Tanuja Garde of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and
included Carrie LaCrosse of EEB/TPP/IPE and Tim Browing of the U.S.
Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). On October 27 the IPWG met
with the NCC and the Trademarks, Patent and Designs Registry of the
Nigerian Ministry of Commerce and Industry. On October 28 the IPWG
met with the Nigerian Customs Service, the Standards Organization of
Nigeria, the President of the Performing Musicians Employer's
Association of Nigeria, the Economic Section Chief of the European
Commission and the Lead Economist for the World Bank in Nigeria.
The October 28 meetings will be reported in septel.
Nigerian Copyrights Commission Update
3. (SBU) The IPWG met with Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC)
Director General Adebambo Adewopo, who commended the USG for
collaborating with the NCC since 2006, especially in providing
opportunities for his staff to participate in training programs at
the Global Intellectual Property Academy (GIPA) hosted by USPTO in
Alexandria Virginia (reftel D), and various other training workshops
sponsored by the USPTO, Department of Commerce Commercial Law
Development Program (CLDP) (reftel C), and the U.S. Department of
Justice (reftel B). He stated that the training programs have
helped improve the skills and knowledge of his officials, and also
provided the foundation for inter-agency cooperation among GON IP
agencies. He stressed that the training received between 2007 and
2008 will surely lead to better enforcement of IP in 2009.

4. (SBU) Adewopo stated that IP enforcement in Nigeria remains an
uphill task but the NCC is doing its best to combat IP piracy. He
said that funding remains a challenge but the NCC has been assured
that it will receive the same appropriation as in the 2008 federal
budget. He reported the NCC is collaborating with various IP
stakeholders, such as the Performing Musicians Association of
Nigeria, to enhance NCC investigations.

5. (SBU) On enforcement, Adewopo commented that the NCC has only
five lawyers handling prosecutions nationwide. He claimed that the
judiciary has not been very helpful because cases drag in the courts
and defendants employ various tactics such as challenging the
jurisdiction of the court to handle the cases in order to delay
court processes.

6. (SBU) Adewopo said the NCC recently understood that some presumed
stakeholders in the IP industry that had been collaborating with the
NCC later turned out to be IP infringers. Specifically some of
these "stakeholders" have invested in optical disc plants to support

7. (SBU) On capacity building, Adewopo confirmed the World Bank (WB)
is providing funding for training and the creation of a copyrights
training institute within the NCC. At least 60 NCC officials will
undergo investigative training supported by the WB and led by
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) trainers. He also

ABUJA 00002177 002 OF 003

reported that the NCC through the recently established copyrights
training institute is providing training on IP at the National
Police College, and there are plans to include the Nigerian Customs
Service Training Academy. The WB is also funding NCC's 2009-2011
medium strategy. Adewopo promised to provide IPWG with a copy of
the final medium-term strategy.

8. (SBU) On public awareness, Adewopo said that the NCC is currently
airing a five minute documentary on IP protection on Africa
Independent Television, the largest private television station in
Nigeria. There are also plans to conduct road shows nationwide
especially to educational institutions to increase IP awareness.

9. (SBU) The IPWG expressed disappointment with reports of low
interagency turnout to the training sessions conducted by the USG
(Copyright Office and the DOJ) and noted the concern that NCC played
a role in this. Director for Planning, Research and Statistics
Olusegun Adekunle responded that it was a misunderstanding. The
IPWG also raised the possibility of an action plan with an annex
listing benchmarks specific to NCC activities. Adewopo agreed that
this was a way forward and promised to provide the USG with a copy
of the medium term-strategy to use a basis for those benchmarks.

10. (SBU) Comment: When DepEconChief questioned Adewopo regarding
the lack of communications with the Embassy regarding supposed
successful investigations and prosecutions, the Director General
expressed "shock" that the USG was unaware of NCC's numerous
successes. Since 2006, DepEconChief has repeatedly requested
information that supports the NCC's claims and refutes reports from
industry and other GON agencies about the NCC's lack of progress.
Adewopo promised that someone from his large staff that participated
in the meeting would provide the requested information. At this
writing, the Mission is dubious and has received no evidence to
corroborate NCC's claims of conscientious, concrete and effective
efforts against piracy. End Comment.
Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry
11. (SBU) In a meeting at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry with
the Office of Trademarks, Patent and Designs Registry, Registrar
Hajia Jamila Ahmadu-Suka expressed appreciation to the USG for its
substantial technical assistance (TA). Ahmadu-Suka underscored that
the USG training programs have improved her staff's skills
tremendously and looped them into current global IP trends and
protection efforts.

12. (SBU) Ahmadu-Suka commented that the Registry has witnessed
significant progress since her appointment in 2007. Her office now
publishes its trademarks journal quarterly unlike in the past when
it was published every two years. Based on support from the
Minister of Commerce, Charles Ugwuh, the Registry will move to a
larger, more modern building that will increase productivity.
(Note: Ugwuh was removed in a cabinet shuffle on October 29, see
reftel A. End Note). Currently the Registrar's Office only has 22
lawyers, while Ahmadu-Suka estimates they need 150 to be adequately
staffed. She believes that increased staffing will be forthcoming
in the new year. The Registry also plans to conduct sensitization
workshops nationwide in 2009, to increase IP public awareness. She
reported that the GON's joining the Patents Cooperation Treaty has
led to a significant increase in patent applications, especially
from foreign patent owners.

13. (SBU) Regarding the current status of pending IP legislation,
Ahmadu-Suka informed the IPWG that the Ministry of Commerce will
soon present a draft bill to the National Assembly for the
establishment of an Industrial Property Commission (IPCOM) which
would be supervised by the Ministry of Commerce. She underscored
that the World Intellectual Property Organization supported the
Ministry of Commerce's draft bill and in comments in the draft bill
stated that the NCC should be kept outside the authority of IPCOM.
On a positive note, Ahmadu-Suka said that the future IPCOM Board
would include representatives from most of the Nigerian enforcement
agencies - this would be a welcome move toward badly-needed
inter-agency cooperation on IP enforcement. Ahmadu-Suka promised to
share a copy of the bill with the IPWG and welcomed USG comments.
The IPWG also raised the possibility of an action plan with an annex
listing benchmarks specific to the Registry's activities.
Ahmadu-Suka agreed that it was a good way forward.

ABUJA 00002177 003 OF 003

14. (SBU) USG-supported IP training has led to more GON inter-agency
cooperation, and an increased IP focus from GON agencies that in the
past appeared unaware of what their roles should be. Nonetheless,
enforcement efforts and IP public awareness are both woefully
inadequate. The Mission is in the process of unveiling a public
diplomacy IP awareness campaign via public service announcements.
Both the NCC and Registar's office have benefited from USG TA and
the Mission has seen positive results at the Registrar's office with
timelier processing and sharing of information. NCC has yet to show
much progress, especially considering the large number of personnel
that have participated in USG TA. Without effective enforcement and
prosecution from the NCC, Nigeria will continue to maintain its
status as a haven for IP pirates. GON IP agencies also need to
improve on the enforcement of IP to justify USG spending on IP
capacity building in Nigeria.

15. (SBU) Since 2006 the NCC and the Registrar's Office have been
jockeying for resources and control. The NCC has contended that a
draft bill supported by the Ministry of Justice is before the
National Assembly which would establish the Nigerian Intellectual
Property Commission, and put under NCC's supervision all patents,
trademarks, copyrights, and designs. Ahmadu-Suka has been adamant
that the Ministry of Commerce would never agree to this bill and has
submitted it own bill for the creation of IPCOM that would keep NCC
separate. Another draft bill developed by CLDP and put forward by
Senator Wada also appears to be in the mix. At this writing, it is
unclear which bill is likely to become law, and this jockeying is a
clear demonstration of the lack of coordination and cooperation
among GON agencies in the IP sector.

16. (U) IPWG cleared on this message before departure.

17. (U) This message was coordinated with ConGen Lagos.


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