Intellectual Property (IP) Law, the creative and innovation industries received quantum jurisprudential recognition, as Nigeria’s first Professor of Intellectual Property Law and former Director-General of Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Adebambo Adewopo emerged one of the 29 latest Senior Advocates of Nigeria sworn in at the Supreme Court of Nigeria on Monday, 18 September 2017 in Abuja.
Professor Adewopo, SAN who currently holds the first IP Chair at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) since 2010 and was conferred with the prestigious Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Award by the Legal Practitioners and Privileges Committee (LPPC) of the Supreme Court in Abuja on July 6, 2017, has by that honour blazed the trail again as the first Professor of IP Law to attain the rank of SAN in the country.
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen presided at the colourful Supreme Court swearing-in ceremony attended by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN; Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federal, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, amongst other eminent legal minds and dignitaries.
The Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Dr. Francis Gurry, in the foreword to one of his books, “Nigerian Copyright System: Principles and Perspectives” (2012), described Adewopo as ‘a distinguished expert on Nigerian copyright law and policy having spent more than 20 years in legal practice, academia and administration’.
Professor Adewopo, SAN, being a passionate IP law scholar, pioneered the teaching and research in IP and IT Law at the Faculty of Law, Lagos State University (LASU) since 1991.
A Fellow of the Max Plank Institute of Intellectual Property, Munich, and the Centre for IP and IT, University of Edinburgh in 2002 and 2005 respectively, he obtained the LL.B of the University of Maiduguri; LL.M of the University of Lagos; LL.M in IP of the University of New Hampshire (Franklin Pierce Law Centre), USA and BL, (Barrister-At-Law), MCIArb (UK).
He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, UK; member of International Association for Teaching and Research in IP (ATRIP) and served on its Executive Committee in 2004/2005.
Professor Adewopo is a tutor in Harvard University Copyright X Program; the founding Editor of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) Journal of IP (NJIP), the first peer-reviewed journal in IP in Nigeria and Africa; served in various roles at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), including tutor, Distance Learning Centre, WIPO Academy, Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) WIPO, and head of delegation of the Government of Nigeria, among others.
Adewopo’s research and scholarship focus on IP, human development and global knowledge governance, and the role and reform of IP in national development goals in developing countries.
He has written over 50 articles in peer reviewed journals, presented over 100 papers in local and international conferences and authored two books in copyright and IP law. He has also contributed to edited books, conducted studies and researches.
‘Professor Adewopo was a scholar before he was anything else. He is a visionary who believes in the power of ideas and of his own convictions. He is among the very few who genuinely and passionately picked up the mustard seed of IP law and has since curated it to the heightened degree of awareness in Nigeria and globally’, attests Professor Chidi Oguamanam of the University of Ottawa.
Adewopo, who has keen interest in legal education, global history and social justice, is the Principal Partner of L & A Legal Consultants, one of the foremost commercial law firms in Nigeria with focus on intellectual property (IP).
In an interview on the significance of his admittance to the exalted rank of SAN, Professor Adewopo stated: “First of all, I am profoundly thankful to God for his exceeding grace. I am both humbled and honoured to be admitted into the Inner Bar and I believe it brings some measure of significance to IP in Nigeria. I derive personal fulfilment in the attainment and more importantly, a sense of responsibility for IP development, our profession and the society at large.”
Responding to a question on the role he is poised to play in the emerging dynamics of IP as well as the development of creative and innovation industries in Nigeria, Professor Adewopo remarked:
“The promotion and protection of creativity and innovation are imperatives for the development of the economy. This has not been prioritised in our recent economic planning or agenda. And certainly, IP which is central in that process has not been accorded sufficient attention, particularly when we are strong in terms of bringing our competitiveness to bear in the creative and innovative capacities as a nation.
“All we need to do is to reorganize our existing institutional structures for the administration of IP.
IP has never been more economically important than it is today in its strategic role for national development in many cross-cutting areas of importance; be it education, technology, public health, trade, agriculture and food security, biodiversity, entertainment, media, and more. These are the critical sectors of our economy and polity today. IP is at the core of human development which continues to offer great potential for contributing to the revival of the economy in terms of enhanced revenue generation, job creation and meeting the objectives of national economic reform.
“I have always maintained that the entire structure of IP administration in the IP law and policy reform as a support system for economic development needs a major overhaul if we really want IP to produce the desired result. The present fragmented structures and legal framework cannot support our economic agenda or produce significant output.
“What we need is a holistic reform of IP in substance and in form, including a well articulated national IP and innovation policy. Developing countries like Nigeria with significant creative and productive capacity need IP law and policy to leverage global competitiveness. There is no better time than now to engender this as a matter of national interest and sustainable development. To this, I am inexorably committed.”