The Rape of Nollywood: American bizman Steals “Nollywood” Trademark, On November 10, 2014 Google refused to allow the social network www.naNAIJA.com to use the word “Nollywood” in its adverts and keywords on the ground that the “Nollywood” trademark belongs to one Opara Nicholas – a US citizen. Could this mark the beginning of a calamitous financial destruction of the Nigerian film industry popularly known in industry lore as NOLLYWOOD?
Below is exactly how naNaija.com narrated it:
Upon receipt of Google’s disapproval, naNAIJA.com contacted Canadian IP lawyer – Dr. Alexander J. Adeyinka who did some quick preliminary research and confirmed what should be every Nigerian’s fear. The saga began when the United States Patent and Trademark Office approved the registration of the trademark with registration numbers; 4275548; 4443000. For Nicholas Opara; 12716 NE81 St. PI Kirkland , Washington 98033 USA. This implies that the word ‘Nollywood’ is solely owned in the United States by the said individual, and using the word Nollywood in any products or services devoid of the permission of the trademark owner makes user legally liable for trademark infringement. And because of international Intellectual Property regimes such as WIPO, Opara’s presumptive trademark rights in “Nollywood” will be protected in many many countries, including Nigeria!!
Although the news was publicized in many Nigerian newspapers, websites and blogs in May 2014, no concerted effort has been made by any individuals or organizations to challenge Opara’s claim. More shocking is the fact that neither the Government of Nigeria (despite its recent posturing on the significance of the film industry to the national economy) nor the many film associations nor the Nollywood fat cats with their rolexes or expensive SUVs, have seen fit to fight the issue. Yet the economic future of the industry may depend on it. The implications are humongous – simply put anyone desiring to use the expression “nollywood” virtually anywhere in the world would have to pay Mr. Opara!! www.naNAIJA.com has learnt that Opara’s lawyers have started sending out “cease and desist” and “take down” notices to individuals, organizations, newspapers, websites, blogs etc. SEE MORE ON PAGE 2