For the Second Time, Sony Trade Marks Case Goes to the Court of Appeal

SONY CYPyJGaWEAIOGvM

Since 2014, we have chronicled on this blog here, here and here an interesting trade mark dispute in Kenya between local company Sony Holdings and Japanese electronics maker Sony Corporation. This blogger is reliably informed that an appeal has already been filed in the Court of Appeal against last month’s decision of the High Court in the reported case of Sony Corporation v Sony Holding Limited [2018] eKLR. In order to discern the likely grounds of appeal, it is important to consider this recent judgment made by the High Court.

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Sorry, Sony: Japanese Electronics Maker Fails to Prove “SONY” Trade Mark Well-Known in Kenya

sony shop kenya anisuma traders P1040664

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.

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Kenyan Java House Africa Triumphs Against Ugandan Cafe Javas in Crucial Trade Mark Court Case

Java House Africa Opens Grand Imperial branch Nile Avenue in Kampala Java House Coffee Shop Uganda Limited Photo by Sqoop

In a judgment delivered yesterday (February 9th 2016), the High Court of Uganda in Civil Appeal No 13 of 2015 has set aside the decision of the Registrar of Trade Marks at Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB). Mr. Justice Madrama Izama allowed the appeal by Nairobi Java House Limited with costs and found that the two marks from Kenya and Uganda in question are capable of concurrent usage.

Readers will recall that in an earlier post here, we confirmed that Nairobi Java House had filed an appeal against the decision of the Registrar in relation to trade mark opposition proceedings filed by Mandela Auto Spares Limited. The proceedings were against the registration of trade mark application numbers 48062/2013 “Java House” and “Java Sun” and 48063/2013 “Nairobi Java House” in the name of Nairobi Java House. The Registrar in his ruling upheld the objection of Mandela Auto Spares Limited and found that the proposed registration of Nairobi Java House’s trade marks would lead to confusion in the marketplace.

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High Court Upholds Registrar’s Decision to Expunge “KENYA BOYS CHOIR” Trade Mark

kenya boys choir trade mark high court milimani nairobi judgment case 2016 photo by henry wanjala

“The appellant cannot have been credited for singing and performing well, as a choir. He was not the choir. He was the Director, the Conductor or the Instructor. Therefore, when the prowess of the Appellant was recognised for the tasks he had excelled in, that did not, and could not transfer to the Appellant, the intellectual property which vested in the choir.” – Mr. Justice Fred A. Ochieng, Misc. Cause No. 193/2015 Joseph Muyale Inzai v Henry Wanjala, Sylvester Matete Makobi, Cliff Njora Njuguna,Masambaya Fredrick Ndukwe And Geoffrey Sauke Together T/A Kenya Boys Choir & another [2016]

In a recent judgment, the High Court has upheld the ruling of the Registrar of Trade Marks to expunge Trade Mark No. KE/T/2010/67586 “KENYA BOYS CHOIR” (WORDS) in Classes 16 and 41 in the name of Joseph Muyale Inzai. From previous posts here and here, readers will recall that members of Kenyan Boys Choir filed an application with the Registrar for expungement of the mark claiming that they were aggrieved by its entry in the Register for various reasons. The Registrar ruled in favour of the Choir members and found that Inzai had no valid and legal claim to the mark for the reason that his ownership of the mark was not sufficiently substantiated as required by law. Inzai felt aggrieved by the Registrar’s ruling and moved to the High Court on an appeal. This blogpost is in relation to the High Court judgment in that appeal.

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High Court Orders Stay in “KENYA BOYS CHOIR” Trade Mark Dispute

Kenyan Boys Choir Boys Choir Kenya Twitter Account Verified

Earlier this year, we reported here this ruling: In the Matter of Trade Mark No. KE/T/2010/67586 “KENYA BOYS CHOIR” (WORDS) in Classes 16 and 41 in the Name of Joseph Muyale Inzai and Expungement Proceedings Thereto by Kenyan Boys Choir by the Assistant Registrar of Trade Marks at the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI).
In this case, one Joseph Muyale Inzai filed an application to register his trade mark “KENYA BOYS CHOIR” (WORDS) before the Registrar of Trade Marks in classes 16 and 41 of the Nice Classification. The mark was approved, published and thereafter entered in the Register of Trade Marks in 2010.

In the same year, Members of a choir known as Kenyan Boys Choir obtained registration of their business names “THE KENYAN BOYS CHOIR” and “THE BOYS CHOIR OF KENYA” under the Registration of Business Names Act. These Members of the Kenyan Boys Choir filed an application for expungement of Inzai’s mark claiming that they were aggrieved by the entry of the mark for various reasons including that they were the true owners of the mark: “KENYAN BOYS CHOIR” which was virtually identical to the mark in question: “KENYA BOYS CHOIR”. The Registrar ruled in favour of the Choir members in addition to an award of costs. The Registrar found that Inzai had no valid and legal claim to the mark for the reason that his ownership of the mark was not sufficiently substantiated as required by law.

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Nairobi Java House Rebranding as Trade Mark Appeal Looms in Uganda

No Java Love: Recent advert in Ugandan newspaper, NEW VISION

No Java Love: Recent advert in Ugandan newspaper, NEW VISION

Many readers will recall that earlier this year the Registrar of Trade Marks in Uganda ruled in favour of Mandela Auto Spares in a matter filed to oppose the move by Nairobi Java House Limited to register trade marks containing the word JAVA in class 43 (restaurant services). The basis of the Ugandan company’s claim was that it was the registered proprietor of trademark numbers 29297 JAVAS in class 30; 40162, 47765, 47766, 47767 all CAFÉ JAVAS in classes 30, 21, 32 and 43 respectively. A copy of the ruling is available here.

This blogger has learned that Nairobi Java House now rebranded as Java House Africa is in the process of appealing the decision of the Registrar in the Commercial Court. In the meantime, Java House continues its aggressive expansion across East Africa and beyond, according to Reuters.

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Summary of the Trade Mark Act Cap 506 Laws of Kenya

This law provides for the protection, promotion and registration of trade marks. The Act defines a mark to include a distinguishing guise, slogan, device, brand, heading, label, ticket, name, signature, word, letter or numeral or any combination thereof whether rendered in two dimensional or three-dimensional form.

Section 15A of this Act specifically incorporates marks that are protected under the Paris Convention or the WTO Agreement’s Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property including Trade in Counterfeit Goods, 1994 as a well known trade mark.

Trade marks in Kenya are registered by Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) and administered by its Managing Director who is the Registrar of Trade Marks for purposes of the Trade Mark Act.

The Act has elaborate provisions against the infringement of trade mark rights.

Examples of Registered Trade Marks in Kenya

Words, devices, combinations of words and devices, slogans and numerals can all be registered as trade marks. Three dimensional marks can be registered in Kenya.

Below are some examples given by KIPI:

1 kosgei kipi 2010

2 kosgei kipi 2010

3 kosgei kipi 2010

Trade Mark Registration Process in Kenya

Registration of trade marks takes between five to six months, including a sixty-day period during which time trade mark applications are published (advertisement) in the Industrial Property Journal. This Journal is published monthly by KIPI, with electronic copies available on KIPI’s website here. Once registered, a trade mark registration is valid for ten years from the date of registration, except where the registration is expunged or declared to be invalid through a process instituted before the Registrar of Trade Marks or the High Court of Kenya. The current trade mark fees payable to KIPI are available here.

The process is set out below:

4 kosgei kipi 2010

Below are all the trade mark forms from KIPI (TM Form No. 1 – TM Form No. 55) :

Description PDF Word
TM 1 Form of authorization of agent Tm1 Tm1
TM 2 Application for Registration of a mark Tm2 Tm2
Tm6 Notice of Opposition of Application Form Tm6 Form Tm6
TM 10 Application for Renewal of mark Tm10 Tm10
Tm10a Certificate of registration of trademark Form10a Form10a
Tm14 Request to register Assignment or transmission Tm14 Tm14
Tm17 Request to alter Trade or Business Address in the register Tm17 Tm17
Tm19 Application to correct Clerical error in register or to ament document, etc. Tm19 Tm19
Tm20 Application to change name or description in the register Tm20 Tm20
Tm 21 Application to surrender Trade Mark fro all Goods and Services Tm 21 Tm 21
Tm22 Application to surrender Trade Mark for some Goods and Services Tm22 Tm22
Tm23 Application to ender disclaimer or memorandum in Register Tm23 Tm23
Tm24 Application to add to or alter registered Trade mark Tm24 Tm24
Tm25 Application for the Marking ,Expunging or varying of an entry in the register Tm25 Tm25
Tm26 Application for leave to intervene in proceedings for making Expunging or varying of an entry in the register Tm26 Tm26
TM 27 Application for search under rule 114/Application for preliminary advice as to distinctiveness. TM 27 TM 27
Tm30 Request for certificate other than under section 22 of the act Tm30 Tm30
TM 32 Application to enter or alter address for service TM 32 TM 32
Tm34 Application for alteration of deposited regulations relating to certification of trademark Tm34 Tm34
Tm43 Application to adapt Classification so that it is in accordance with section 6(2) of the act Tm43

 

Tm44

 

 

TM 48

Notice of opposition to application to have classification adapted

Application for registration of registered user.

Tm44
Tm48
 

Tm44

 

 

Tm53 Application for extension of Time Tm53 Tm53
Tm54 Order form for copy of document Tm54 Tm54
Tm55 Application to add goods or services to a Trade Mark or an Application Tm55 Tm55

 

International Registration of Kenyan Trade Marks

quail-advanced-regular-strength

Kenya is a member of both the Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol, and trade marks registered via this Madrid route are recognised and enforceable as if they were registered in Kenya. This Madrid system is under the ambit of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and it enables Kenyan companies and entrepreneurs to protect their trademarks in multiple countries around the world by filing one application with one set of fees and designating KIPI as the receiving office.

For a practical example of how the Madrid system works, check our blogpost here based on a hypothetical case of a fictitious product “Quail Advanced” pictured above.