IP Rights in Valentine’s Day, Who’d Have Thought It?!

12 Feb 2013

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 My_IP, By Olufola Wusu:

Somewhere in the background, “Send me the pillow that you dream on” a classical love song by Hank Locklin wafts around my room...

Love is in the air again, it’s the season of love and loving. On the 14th of February every year the world celebrates love and lovers.

Valentine’s Day is one of the world’s most romantic holidays with fresh roses, cakes, gifts, cards, perfumes, clothes and tons of Valentine’s Day paraphernalia and with all these comes a plethora of IP rights waiting to be commercialised or contested hotly in a lawsuit.

History of Valentine’s Day

The origin of the holiday is a bit unclear; nearly three hundred years after the death of Jesus Christ, the Roman emperors demanded that everyone believe in the Roman gods. Valentine, a Christian priest, had been thrown in prison for his teachings.

On February 14, Valentine was beheaded. The night before he was executed, he wrote the jailer's daughter a farewell letter, signing it "From Your Valentine."

Another legend tells us that this same Valentine, well-loved by all, received notes to his jail cell from children and friends who missed him.

Bishop Valentine?

There was a Valentine, an Italian Bishop, who lived at about AD 200. He was said to have been imprisoned because he secretly married couples, contrary to the laws of the Roman emperor. Some reports say he was burned at the stake.

Feast of Lupercalia?

Ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia, a spring festival, on the 15th of February, held in honour of a goddess. Young men randomly chose the name of a young girl to escort to the festivities.

It’s Valentine’s Day and we will be looking at the IP issues and assets associated with it.

The laws enumerated below make up the legal regime for the protection of Intellectual Property Rights in Nigeria.

Nigerian Copy Right Act, Cap. C 28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004

Patents and Designs Act, Cap P2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004;

Trade Marks Act, Cap. T13 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004; and

Merchandise Marks Act Cap. M10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004

Intellectual Property Rights abound in Valentine’s Day…

Roses are Red and Violets Are Blue

Flowers are an integral part of the season of love; flowers are like pictures, they are worth a thousand romantic words. However we now have blue roses thanks to science. Two companies Florigene and Suntory created a blue rose in 2004 employing genetic engineering containing blue pigments.

Valentine Cakes

Cakes are sweet and wonderful and for some reason this season seems to have many a baker working overtime and smiling to the bank.
Valentine Cards

The first greeting cards probably handmade valentines, appeared sometime in the 16th century. History has it that as early as 1800, companies had begun mass-producing cards. Initially these cards were hand-coloured by factory workers. However sometime in the early 20th century fancy lace and ribbon-strewn cards were created by machines.

Digital Love

We now have apps ranging from “Open table” to “Helpful romantic” that help you make reservations and suggest romantic things to do for your loved one.

These make up the basic intellectual properties of Valentine’s Day a holiday marking the season of love that has spawned a multi-billion dollar industry.

“Intellectual Property is a valuable asset to any organisation but in the spirit of Valentine’s Day the emphasis should be on innovative ways to shower one’s object of affection with love and genuine affection.”

Benefits of Valentine Intellectual Property;

In registering and encouraging innovation even in Valentine day celebrations we are able to encourage others to come up with innovation that will help each Valentine day celebration be more romantic than the last.

A key part of sharing is that a contract is beneficial to only those you enter into contract with while shared innovation blesses all and sundry.

Be careful though, Valentine’s Day may be one of the most romantic times of the year but it can also be high season for lawyers, as owners of some of the world’s most beloved Valentine’s paraphernalia are eager to defend their intellectual property rights.

Intellectual Property in Valentine’s Day

The basic types of Intellectual property prevalent in Valentine’s Day are the following; Patents, Copyrights and Trade Secrets.


A patent is a document issued, upon application by a government office (or a regional office acting for several countries), which describes an invention and creates a legal situation in which the patented invention can normally only be exploited (manufactured, used, sold, imported) with the authorisation of the owner of the patent

Patents cover things like tablets, devices used in making jewellery, table decorations, wall decorations, cameras, phones and gifts.

Trade Secrets

A "trade secret" is defined as any product, operating formula, pattern, device or other compilation of information which is used in a business, which gets its economic value from being kept secret, and gives the business a competitive advantage.

Valentine’s Day industry depends heavily on trade secret protection. They never really tell us how they come up with such romantic cards, ingenious valentine balls and the various activities they spoil romantic couples with; these secrets are kept confidential and are fiercely protected as trade secrets.

Valentine’s Day Law Suits…

On November 19, 2012 a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri ruled in Hallmark’s favour on all claims in a case against Monitor Clipper Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm.

The jury found that Monitor Clipper misappropriated Hallmark’s trade secrets from Monitor Consulting Group, which had done consulting work with Hallmark in the past. Hallmark was awarded $31.3 million, which included $10 million in punitive damages.


A trademark is a sign that is used to identify particular goods and services as those produced or provided by a certain person or business. It helps to distinguish goods and services produced by one business from similar ones provided by another. Trademarks cover many prominent valentine day brands.


A copyright gives the holder of such copyright the exclusive right to control exploitation, production and adaptation of such a work for a certain period of time.

Copyright exists in a work on the basis of originality and fixation. Copyright protection is particularly important to the protection of many a timeless love song.

It would cover Valentine cards, cake recipes, love songs and Valentine’s Day wish lists.

Many timeless love songs have been written from “Lady in red” to “Endless love”. Love songs of those days emphasised attaching importance to the things your loved one finds delight in as distinct from today’s experience of some young juvenile weighed down with dog chains chanting in a raspy voice” I wanna sex you up!”


Innovation is looking for better ways of solving a problem.

Valentine’s Day has sprung on us that eternal challenge of constantly looking for fresh ways to amaze and enthral our loved ones with better, cheaper and faster ways of making them feel special and loved.

Happy Val’s day everyone!

Tags: Life and Style, Life, Featured, Valentine

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