Trade mark tussle over Standard Group ‘Eve Sisters’ name

The January issue of The Nairobi Law Monthly reports “Standard wins ‘sisters’ name row” which pertains to the recent ‘trade mark infringement dispute’ filed by Creative Force Events MD Ann Njeri Mungai Kihiu against The Standard Group Ltd and Associate Editor, Ms. Njoki Karuoya.

The background to this trade mark dispute is simply boils down to a bitter falling out between the two former business associates (Kihiu and Karuoya) which has now translated into both parties trading accusations of “stealing a concept”.

According to the Law Monthly, Ms Kihiu has moved to court accusing Ms Karuoya and the Standard Group of infringing on her trademark by the name “Sista 2 Sista”. She alleged that Ms Karuoya has initiated a similar programme known as “Eve Sisters” using the same concept and clientele. In the programme, women gather to share personal experiences, training and so forth, what Kihiu terms an ‘experiential’ programme. Kihiu alleged that that she was aggrieved by Karuoya’s introduction of a similar product under the name “Eve Sister” which she claimed misrepresented the public by way of a similar concept.

Kihiu further claims that Karuoya was using the database of her contacts to publicise the event and “fradulently misleading her” that the even was for the “Sista 2 Sista” programme. Kihiu pleaded for orders to restrain the Standard Group from using the name saying that she was bound to suffer loss of reputation, sales and goodwill and other irrepable damage through the confusion generated by SG.

In response, Karuoya argued that the trademark Kihiu claimed to own had not been registered and what was before the court was a mentorship programme. She added that her former business partner had not tabled evidence to prove loss of money or that the whole concept was a collaborative effort between them.

Justice Kimondo ruled that Kihiu’s argument could not meeet the threshold for the grant of intelocutory stay against the media group. The judge noted that the Kihui should have called at least a member of the public to demonstrate that there was a confusion between the two products. The judge said he did not find sufficient evidence of the monies used by Kihiu on the trade name. In addition Kimondo added:

“I would venture to also add that on the face of it, the names ‘Sista 2 Sista’ and ‘Eve Sisters’, and even get-up, seem to be quite different from a visual and phonetic basis.”

Kimondo therefore ruled that Kihui had failed to prove loss of goodwill or deception to prove her case and dismissed the dispute in favour of the SG on grounds that the applicant had not established a prima facie case.

IPKenya plans to get the ruling some time this week in order to provide a more comprehensive analysis of Justice Kimondo’s ruling.