The name 'Nollywood' is now Trademarked – Will All Legal Hell Break Loose?

“I was wrapping up my morning routine including checking my social media pages before fully beginning my day when I saw a message/tweet from attorney turned filmmaker Mildred Okwo (@mealdredo).She directed my attention to the fact that ‘Nollywood’ is now a registered trademark owned by an individual in the state of Washington, USA. It was too hilarious for words and just to be sure, I checked the website and sure enough, ‘Nollywood’ is now a registered trademark owned by a Nicholas Opara.
To add insult on injury, the named individual allegedly sent a cease and desist letter to a company using the word ‘Nollywood.’ For those who may not understand the significance of this, it means using the word Nollywood in any of your products or services without the permission of the trademark owner could have you facing legal liability for trademark infringement. Yes, the second largest film industry in the world has just become nameless. If the name was ‘Nollywood Legal’ or some derivative of the ‘Nollywood’ name, then that is a different matter.
But to solely register the name Nollywood and expect the entire country of 170million in Nigeria and the entire globe that uses ‘Nollywood’ a generic name, to stop, is laughable at best. Clearly, an oversight but calls for the need to educate folks at the USPTO to do some more research before approving names like this one.
For a more detailed discussion on trademark basics, below is a republished article I wrote a little while back on a different platform on Trademark law.
Hopefully, the USPTO gets this rectified ASAP.


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