In a recently delivered High Court ruling in the case of Hero MotoCorp Limited v. Esteem Motors Limited & 2 Ors Misc. Cause No. 37 of 2014, Lady Justice Flavia Senoga Anglin sitting alone in the Commercial Division directed the Registrar of Trade Marks at Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) to cancel and expunge from the Trade Marks Register four trade marks namely “Karizma”, “Hunk”, “Glamour” and “Splendor” registered by the first respondent – Esteem on two grounds namely, prior registration by the Applicant – Hero in India and non-use of the trademarks by Esteem in Uganda.
In its ruling, the Ugandan High Court cited with approval a number of rulings by Kenya’s Registrar of Trade Marks at Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI). This blogpost is a brief summary of the facts and reasoning of the court in this case.
In March 2015, Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) announced that it had prepared Drafting Instructions to overhaul the Trade Marks Act. These Drafting Instructions, which were published for public comment on KIPI’s website, were to be forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office for the necessary action.
This month, KIPI has published the revised Drafting Instructions repealing the Trade Marks Act along with Drafting Instructions to repeal the Trade Mark Rules. According to KIPI, both these drafts will be forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office for drafting. In the meantime, KIPI requests for any public comments on the drafts to be sent to KIPI via email at firstname.lastname@example.org on or before 30th April 2016.
Copies of the revised drafting instructions to amend the Trade Marks Act and Trade Mark Rules are here and here respectively.
As many readers may know, CopyrightX is a twelve-week networked course, offered from January to May each year under the auspices of Harvard Law School, the HarvardX distance-learning initiative, and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The course explores the current law of copyright mainly in the US but also elsewhere in the world; the impact of that law on art, entertainment, and industry; and the ongoing debates concerning how the law should be reformed. Through a combination of recorded lectures presented by Prof. Fisher, assigned readings, weekly seminars led by yours truly here in Kenya, participants taking the course in Nairobi examine and assess the ways in which the copyright system seeks to stimulate and regulate creative expression.
Recently, CopyrightX participants in Kenya sat a continuous assessment test (CAT) covering Lectures 1 – 8 of the HLS 2016 Syllabus available here. Part of the CAT was a list of 50 statements which the participants had to determine whether they were true or false. A copy of this part of the CAT is available here. This blogpost is a summary of some observations from the performance of the participants in this part of the CAT.
In a recently reported ruling in the case of LRC Products Limited v Metro Pharmaceuticals Limited  eKLR, the High Court dismissed an application by the plaintiff for an injunction restraining the defendant from importing, packaging, supplying, selling or offering for sell, distributing or otherwise dealing with the ‘Durex” products. The plaintiff had also sought orders to enter into the Defendant’s premises and seize all products or packaged products bearing the Plaintiff’s trademark, or similar trademark and further, seize records of purchases and sales, invoices and any other documents which constitute or would constitute evidence necessary to substantiate its cause of action.
As a result of this ruling, a trade mark will not be infringed by the importation into or distribution, sale or offering for sale, in Kenya of goods to which the trade mark has been applied by or with the consent of the proprietor.
Where to begin?
Section 6(a) of the Copyright Act states that the Board of Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) shall consist of “a chairman, who shall be appointed by the Minister from amongst the members of registered copyright societies”. The Copyright Act as read with the Interpretation and General Provisions Act defines “Minister” as the Attorney-General who is “the Minister for the time being responsible for matters relating to copyright and related rights.” Under Article 156(4)(a) of the Constitution of Kenya states that the Attorney-General is the “principal legal adviser to the Government” which presumes that the A-G, in the case of public appointments, would have been consulted on their legality or lack thereof especially where those appointments touch on the A-G’s own docket!
Recent media reports indicate that Sony Corporation has filed an appeal in the High Court against the decision of the Registrar of Trade Marks at Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) allowing the registration of two trade marks namely “SONY HOLDINGS” (WORDS AND DEVICE) and “SONY HOLDINGS” (WORDS).
Given the high likelihood that the High Court may defer to the expert determination of the Trade Mark Registrar, this blogpost considers the ruling made by the Registrar in the opposition proceedings with the costs totaling about Kshs 1,252,400.00 awarded to Sony Holdings.
This blogger has come across the recently reported case of Sijali Salum Zuwa & 4 others v Pamela Akinyi Atieno  eKLR involving a dispute over authorship and ownership of several musical works attributed to the legendary band, Les Wanyika. From 1978 to date, several founding band members have died namely Omar ‘Professor’ Shaban, Issa Juma, Mohamed Tika, John Ngereza and Foni Mkwanyule.The surviving members of the band filed suit in the High Court challenging a grant of letters of administration obtained by Pamela Akinyi, the widow of Shabani over her late husband’s estate including some forty eight (48) songs by Les Wanyika. One such song is “Pamela” (captured in the video at the start of this post) written by Shabani and dedicated to Pamela, who is the defendant in the present suit.