Increase in patenting activity: Nigeria a good proxy
Over the past decade, six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies have been in sub-Saharan Africa. Many predict that over the next decade, Africa is likely to eclipse Asia as the fastest-growing economic region.
These trends are also playing out in the IP sector, with consistently high growth in patent filings. The growth is being driven predominantly by corporates based in the United States, Europe and China, which see Africa as an important emerging market for their products, services and technologies.
Patent activity in Nigeria reflects these trends. Patent filings show strong growth, but as can be seen from the graph below, this growth is driven almost exclusively by international corporates filing patents in Nigeria.
Pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, information technology, telecommunications, mining and retail are the most active sectors.
With the growth of patent filings in Nigeria, there has also been an increased level of activity in patent enforcement. Ten years ago, patent litigation in Africa, outside South Africa, was almost non-existent. This has changed significantly in recent years, with four patent disputes being heard by the Nigerian courts. Once again, the protagonists in these matters are international corporates looking to build and protect their commercial positions in Nigeria.
These trends are set to continue, if not increase, in the next few years.
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