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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“PANASUPER” Trademark Fraudulently Registered in Uganda: Judgment in Muse Af Enterprises Co. Ltd v. Billen General Trading Ltd & 2 Ors

PANASUPER PANASONIC TRADEMARK

This blogger has come across a recent judgment from Uganda’s Commercial Court in Muse Af Enterprises Co. Ltd Vs Billen General Trading Ltd & 2 Ors [2015] UGCOMMC 88. In this case, Muse filed an application for registration of the PANASUPER trademark in Uganda on 3rd August 2006 but the application was opposed by Matsushita Electronic Industrial Co. Ltd of Japan, the registered proprietors of Trademarks No. 25731 and 28536 PANASONIC. Since the registration of the trademark had been opposed, Muse requested a power of attorney from Linyi Huatai. The PANASUPER trademark was subsequently registered after URSB delivered a ruling disposing of the opposition of the trademark.

Later, Muse filed suit against Linyi Huatai and their local agent Billen for trademark infringement. However Linyi Huatai claimed that Muse had fraudulently registered the PANASUPER trademark in its own name. Linyi Huatai asked the court to cancel the registration of PANASUPER and claimed damages from Muse.

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Uganda: Court Awards 400 Million Shillings for Contempt of Court in Trade Mark Infringement Suit

MEGHA INDUSTRIES ROYALFOAM MATTRESS SCREENSHOT COMFOAM PASSING-OFF INFRINGEMENT UGANDA

This blogger has come across a recent judgment from the Commercial Division of the Ugandan High Court in the case of Megha Industries (U) Ltd v Comfoam Uganda Limited [2014] UGCOMMC 162 relating to alleged infringement by Comfoam of cover designs on mattresses registered under the trade mark “ROYALFOAM” by the Megha. Coincidentally, many readers of this blog will note that the expression "going to the mattresses" used in the classic 1972 movie The Godfather, is a euphemism that means “going to war”. So, Megha went to war over its mattresses and Comfoam admitted to passing off Megha’s goods so the parties entered into a consent judgment on 03.02.12, which was sealed by the court on 17.02.12. By the consent decree, a permanent injunction was issued restraining Comfoam, its agents or servants from passing off its goods as Megha’s ROYALFOAM brand of mattresses. The injunction also restrained Comfoam from further producing and or manufacturing mattresses with the infringing mattress cover design the subject of the suit. In the course of the court case, Megha was able to successfully prove that Comfoam’s mattress cover designs were similar to that of Megha’s mattress cover design.

However, in the present case, Megha contended that in total disregard of the consent judgment, Comfoam has continued to manufacture the mattresses using covers similar to its own. Megha further pointed out that an interim order issued by court on 08.07.14 restraining Comfoam from continued passing off of its mattresses as those of Megha had been disregarded hence its prayer that Comfoam be found in contempt of court. In its defence, Comfoam admitted that parties reached a settlement and entered a consent judgment and in obedience to the judgment immediately stopped manufacturing the offending mattresses, changed their designs and registered Trade Marks on them and are lawfully producing mattresses with their covers under the lawfully registered trademarks and are therefore not in contempt of court orders. Comfoam argued that the order did not prohibit them from manufacturing mattresses per se but prohibited them from manufacturing or selling or passing off its mattresses as those of Megha.

In arriving at its finding that Comfoam were in contempt of court orders, the court observed that the mattresses covers by Comfoam were very similar to those of Megha in design and color and the only difference is that Comfoam’s covers bore its own company name. The court’s ultimate decision was as follows:

The application is allowed for all the reasons set out herein and the following orders are made:-

1. A suspended sentence of six months committal is to be meted out to the Directors of the Respondent Company, if the acts that were forbidden by court in the consent order persist.

2. Exemplary damages of shs. 300,000,000/- are awarded to the Applicant Company with payment of interest at court rate from date of this ruling till payment in full.

3. The sum of shs. 100,000,000/- is awarded against the Respondent as a penalty for contempt of court orders in Civil Suit 269/2011. The sum is to be deposited in court.

4. The mattresses with the infringing cover design shall be removed from the market for destruction with the assistance of police following the procedures set out in the Trade Marks Act, upon failure of which a writ of sequestration will issue.

5. Taxed cost of the application are also granted to the Applicant.

A copy of the full judgment is available here.