In the last few decades technology has greatly disrupted the way humans live and the export of technology remains a key revenue earner in developed countries e.g. in 2016, India generated about $100 billion from the export of software to other countries. The reverse is the case in Nigeria which has lagged in the development of home grown technological solutions that can empower its citizenry and generate foreign exchange.
This scenario is however changing and there are indications that our tech entrepreneurs are now looking inwards in coming up with solutions that would reduce consumption of foreign technology. A common way of regulating commercialization of technology is Technology Transfer Agreements which basically documents the movement of technology from the inventor/owner to the recipient.
This week we examine some elements of this type of agreement and the safeguards put in place by the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) to encourage technological development in Nigeria.
A Technology Transfer Agreement may be defined as a legally binding document that contains the terms and conditions under which technical skills, specialized knowledge, technical know-how and other proprietary rights for the manufacturing of goods and services are transferred from one individual, enterprise or organization to another person, enterprise or organization through licensing and other contractual arrangements that are mutually beneficial to both parties.
It is important that a Technological Transfer Agreements indicate the ownership of the Technology and the rights being granted to the Recipient. It should also indicate the intellectual property rights associated with the technology and limitations of use by the Recipient as well as provisions for support services by the Inventor/Owner.
In a bid to help Nigeria achieve technological growth and to correct trade imbalances, the Federal Government set up the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP)which has the mandate to encourage the adoption of the best contractual terms and conditions in Technology Transfer Agreements.
The body is also saddled with the responsibility of promoting locally generated technologies. Section 4(d) of the NOTAP Act gives the body the right to register all Technology Transfer Agreements and issue a certificate in respect to such registration. In other to enforce the registration of transfer agreements, section 7 goes further to forbid the Ministry of Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria and other Financial Institutions from paying any form of licensing fees to a body outside Nigeria without the certificate of registration being tendered.
In registering the agreements NOTAP ensures that they are in conformity with Nigerian Laws, and the fees charged are not excessive. In the case of imported technology, the body also ensures that the agreement reflects local content development.
PROCESS OF REGISTRATION WITH NOTAP.
- Submission of the Application Form and accompanying documents at the Director General’s Office;
- Assessment and evaluation of the Technology Transfer Agreement;
- Communication of observations/ Approval Letter to Applicants;
- Response by the Applicants/Payment of Applicable Registration Fees;
- Issuance of Certificate of Registration along with Certified Copies of the Registered Agreement
Technology Transfer Agreements regulate the relationship between Inventors and end users of technology and it is pertinent to note that the technology transfer need not be from a foreign company into Nigeria, it could also be from a local inventor who intends to commercialize his product by granting licenses to others to reproduce the invention on a larger scale.