Mr. Sylvance Sange, the Acting Managing Director of the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) has published the Trade Marks Bill 2015 for public comment.
KIPI notes that the Trade Marks Act, Cap 506 of the Laws of Kenya came into effect on 1st January 1957. Since then, the Act has undergone a number of amendments and was last comprehensively amended in 2002. In compliance with the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and in keeping with the current national and international trends in the field of intellectual property, KIPI now seeks to repeal the Act. To this end, KIPI has prepared Drafting Instructions to be forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office for the necessary action.
Members of the public and interested parties are invited to submit any written comments on this Bill to KIPI at email@example.com on or before April 30th 2015.
A copy of the Bill is available here
According to media reports here, Finserve Africa Limited, a subsidiary of the multi-billion shilling Equity Group Holdings Ltd has been threatened with court action by Equitel Insurance Agency Ltd over the use of the name “Equitel” in connection with its telecommunication network operated using the now controversial ‘thin SIM’ technology. It is reported that Equitel has issued Equity with a cease and desist notice in which the former terms as unlawful the use of its trade mark which includes the name “Equitel” by Equity. Therefore Equitel has reportedly demanded that Equity desist from using the trade mark, including withdrawal of all publicity and advertising materials that contain this word.
In reply to Equitel’s claims, it is reported that Equity’s counsel stated in a letter as follows:-
“Our client is the proprietor of Equity Insurance Agency registered as such in 2007, to provide insurance services to its customers. Therefore, registration of Equitel Insurance Agency was targeted to misrepresent to the public that it was offering our client’s insurance services (….) The mere fact that your client may have been the first to register the trade name does not override the common law protection of the name, goodwill and reputation amassed by our client over the years”
In this connection, it is reported that Equity accused Equitel of using insider knowledge to set up its operations, given that it was an account holder at the bank and had first-hand experience of the services Equity Insurance was offering and, therefore, sought association in the registration of its own business name.
This blogger will be keenly following this dispute in the event the matter is not settled amicably and ends up before the courts for determination.
As earlier advertised here, African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) successfully executed its on-going series of Region-wide “Roving Seminars” in Kenya with the first two days (Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th of March 2015) being devoted to copyright matters under the theme: “Copyright in the Digital Environment” and last two days (Thursday 19th and Friday 20th of March 2015) being devoted to industrial property matters under the theme: “Protection and Promotion of Patents, Trade Marks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications”.
In his opening remarks, ARIPO Director General Mr. Fernando Dos Santos brought to our attention the important role Kenya has played as a pioneer ARIPO member state. For those who may not know, when ARIPO was established, its first headquarters were hosted at the Attorney General’s Chambers (Sheria House) in Nairobi before later relocating to its present headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe. Therefore the DG described coming to Kenya and visiting Sheria House as “coming home” since this was his first visit to Kenya since taking office as Director General in 2013.
This blogger has recently received a copy of the High Court’s recent ruling in the case of Weetabix Ltd v. Manji Food Industries Ltd HCCC No. 53 of 2013. As previously discussed in our blogpost here, Weetabix had approached the High Court seeking a temporary injunction restraining Manji Foods, the makers and distributors of Multibix from engaging in any commercial dealings with the product Multibix. According to Weetabix, the application became necessary because despite the ruling of the Registrar of Trade Marks (as highlighted here), Manji Foods has continued to distribute and sell the Multibix product causing damages as result of trade mark infringement. The court found for Weetabix allowing its application for injunction.
A copy of the ruling is available here.
At the core of the ruling by Ogolla J was an unequivocal affirmation of the decision by the Registrar of Trade Marks from In Re TMA No. 66428 “MULTIBIX” Opposition by Weetabix Ltd 31 August 2012 where Weetabix had successfully brought opposition proceedings against the registration of the trade mark “MULTIBIX” in respect of “biscuits” (in class 30) on the grounds of likelihood of confusion contrary to Section 14 of the Trade Marks Act and that “WEETABIX” was a well-known mark under Section 15A of the Act.
“Like the High Court, we are satisfied that the Registrar judicially and fairly exercised his discretion to extend time. He properly directed himself on the substance of the notice of oppsition so that the matter in controversy may be heard and determined with the benefit of evidence. The alternative, suggested by the appellant, namely to terminate the opposition proceedings on a technical procedural point, would be ineffectual, as the registration of the appellant’s trade marks would open new front of challenge and dispute between the same parties, on essentially the same issue.
We find no merit in this appeal. It is dismissed with costs.” – Githinji, Mwera & Ouko, JJ.A in the Judgment of the Court in Sony Holdings Ltd v Registrar of Trade Marks & another  eKLR.
This blogger has come across the recently reported judgment of the Court of Appeal in the case of Sony Holdings Ltd v Registrar of Trade Marks & another  eKLR. As previously discussed here, the so-called Sony case was filed in the High Court to challenge whether the Registrar of Trade Marks acted within his powers in extending time within which a notice of opposition to the registration of two trade marks could be lodged. Disatisfied with the decision of the High Court on this matter, Sony Holdings appealed to the Court of Appeal which has now delivered the present judgment. In its judgment, the appellate court upheld the decision of the High Court and found that the Registrar of Trade Marks had the discretion to extend time periods under Section 21(2) the Trade Marks Act read with Rules 46 and 102 of the Trade Marks Rules.
A copy of the judgment is available here.
“Although the East African region has the potential to develop new areas of wealth and employment as it is rich in cultural heritage and inexhaustible pool of talents, the region still remains a marginal played in the global market. While the East African Community (EAC) Partner States produce world-renowned artists, still the contribution of creative and cultural industries to our economy has remained insignificant. Likewise, due to lack of incentives, financial, educational, infrastructure and technology support from the EAC Partner States and the business community, our local creative industries are not yet fully developed.
Nurturing and exploitation of creative and cultural industries in the EAC through an effective regional legal framework can contribute to job creation, income generation and poverty alleviation.” – Hon. Dr. James Ndahiro (Rwanda), Member – East African Legislative Assembly.
On 27th January 2015, the EAC Creative and Cultural Industries Bill, 2015 was read for the first time and committed to the Committee of General Purpose during the Fourth Meeting of the 3rd Session of the 3rd Assembly plenary session held in Arusha, Tanzania.
Between the 9th and 10th of March 2015, this Committee has been covering all EAC Partner States holding public hearings to sensitise stakeholders on the Bill and receive views and contributions from them to be incorporated into the Bill.
This blogger has come across a recent judgment from the High Court in Uganda in the case of Ssebagala v. MTN (U) Ltd & Anor. In this case, Ssebagala the former Mayor of Kampala spoke to journalists who were waiting outside the precincts of Parliament. Ssebagala was being vetted by Uganda’s Parliamentary Appointments Committee following his nomination for appointment as a Cabinet Minister.
During the question and answer (Q & A) session, Ssebegala is said to have responded to the journalists using his “characteristic style and skill which obviously generated a lot of merriment”. Ssebagala’s interaction with the press was publicly broadcast in Uganda as current news of public and political events. Thereafter SMS Media Ltd, the third party in the suit, adapted audiovisual recordings of Ssebagala into caller ring back tones (CRBTs) and offered these caller tunes to leading mobile network MTN Uganda for sale to the latter’s subscribers.