Readers of this blog may be aware of the 50-year trade mark battle that has been going on between Lacoste S.A and Crocodile International PTE Ltd (“CIL”). These companies were formed about 10 years apart on opposite corners of the globe: one in France in 1933 and the other in Singapore in 1943. Historically, the battle has focused on Lacoste’s right-facing crocodile mark and CIL’s left-facing crocodile mark with trademark suits filed in numerous jurisdictions around the world.
The International Federation of Musicians (FIM) reports that powerful record label umbrella body International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has written to Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) demanding the removal of Section 30A of Kenya Copyright Act. (See our previous discussions of section 30A here)
According to FIM, the criticism of section 30A by IFPI is an unacceptable “step backwards, the implication of which is that all treaties guaranteeing artists’ rights would be made devoid of any meaning (Rome Convention, WPPT, Beijing Treaty).”
This blogger came across a recent media report stating that the government through the Ministry of Agriculture had successfully applied for registration of a mark of origin for Kenyan coffee at Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) and that a similar application was pending at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
The media report reads in part:
“Speaking yesterday at a preparatory meeting for the launch at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei said the move was intended to increase visibility of local coffee in the domestic and international markets.
“The use of national mark of origin is another measure geared at improving visibility of Kenyan coffee in the domestic and international market,” Mr Koskei said.
Interim head of coffee directorate Grenville Melli said the mark is registered by Kenya Intellectual Property Institute and listing by World International Property Organisation is being considered.
So far, four companies have met the requirements to use the mark. They are C. Dormans, Kenya Nut Company, Kimanthi University of Technology and Super Gibs Ltd.”
While scanty on the actual facts and details, the media report brings to light an interesting development. This blogger has confirmed that the Coffee Board of Kenya (CBK), a state corporation, has registered a Certification mark with the Registrar of Trade Marks at KIPI. A representation of the mark has been reproduced above. The Board also made an application to register the Certification Mark through WIPO’s Madrid System. They duly designated a number of countries including Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Iran, Sudan as well as the European Community but apparently the CBK did not attach the rules governing the use of the mark, as required for purposes of registration of a Certification Mark.
Upon examination of the application, all the designated countries, apart from Sudan, required the Board to forward the above rules within a certain period but the Board did not comply in time. The mark has therefore been deemed abandoned in all the countries designated apart from Sudan where it appears the mark has been registered. The Board has indicated that it will commence the process all over again.
A copy of the “COFFEE KENYA” Madrid application is available here.
“….unconventional or “exotic” marks, such as colours, sounds and smells, give rise to conceptual problems, which are not encountered with more conventional trade names and logos. As the registration of a trade mark creates a form of intellectual property conferring a potentially perpetual monopoly in the mark and excluding everybody else from use in various ways, the point of principle has some public importance.”
Recently, the England and Wales Court of Appeal in the case of Société Des Produits Nestlé S.A. v Cadbury UK Ltd.  overturned a decision of the High Court to proceed with an application to register a trade mark for Cadbury’s chocolate, which featured a specified shade of the colour purple. In particular, the trade mark applied for by Cadbury was shown as a rectangle, which is a purple block when reproduced in colour, and described as:-
“The colour purple (Pantone 2685C), as shown on the form of application, applied to the whole visible surface, or being the predominant colour applied to the whole visible surface, of the packaging of the goods.” [Emphasis Mine]
Read the rest of this article here.