Jurisdiction is Everything: Time to Merge Tribunals for Copyright, Industrial Property, Seed and Plant Varieties

tribunal judiciary kenya cms-image-000005230

As readers may know, a government taskforce had earlier recommended the merger of the three intellectual property (IP) offices dealing with copyright, industrial property and anti-counterfeit matters. The implementation of these recommendations appears to have stalled with no progress made to-date. In addition to the IP offices, there is also the matter of the various IP dispute resolution bodies created under the various IP laws: the Industrial  Property  Act establishes the Industrial  Property  Tribunal, the Copyright Act establishes the Competent Authority (akin to a Copyright Tribunal), the Anti-Counterfeit Act  establishes the Anti-Counterfeit Agency and the Seeds and Plant Varieties Act establishes the Seeds and Plant Tribunal.

Recently, the Judiciary Working Committee on Transition and Restructuring of Tribunals developed a Draft Tribunal Bill 2015 to help domicile all tribunals under the Judiciary. This is an important step that could benefit IP owners and users in the quick and expert settlement of various IP-related disputes.

Continue reading

High Court Upholds Freeze of Collecting Society’s Bank Accounts: Ruling in MCSK v Chief Magistrate, Inspector General

Music-Copyright-Society-of-Kenya-MCSK-CEO-Maurice-Okoth People Daily

This blogger has recently come across an astute ruling by the High Court in the case of Music Copyright Society of Kenya v Chief Magistrate’s Court & Inspector General of Police [2015] eKLR. Justice L. Kimaru sitting in the High Court was approached by the authors’ collecting society, Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) to stay orders issued by the Magistrate’s Court freezing all the bank accounts of MCSK following a request by the Serious Crimes Unit under the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI). DCI requested that MCSK’s accounts be frozen as it investigates complaints made by MCSK members in regard to alleged misappropriation and theft of funds at the collecting society.

After carefully evaluating the facts before him, Kimaru J ruled that the investigations were lawful and based on several complaints received by DCI from MCSK members and that the orders to freeze MCSK’s accounts were within the precincts of the law.

Continue reading

Kenafric ‘Fuma’ Footwear Denies Counterfeiting Claims by Puma

Kenafric Fuma Footwear

This blogger has previously blogged here and here about Kenafric’s fatal attraction to well-known trade marks, to put it mildly. The latest victim of Kenafric’s attraction is none other than Puma AG Rudolf Dassler Sport (Puma for short). In this connection, this blogger came across a recent ruling in the case of Kenafric Industries Limited & another v Anti-Counterfeit Agency & 3 others [2015] eKLR.

In this case, Puma through its representative Paul Ramara lodged complaints at Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) against Kenafric for trade mark infringement. ACA and Ramara went to Kenafric’s premises and demanded to check the same for goods in the name of Puma a demand Mikul Shah a director at Kenafric declined to comply with due to the fact that his company had not been served with any Court order directing the said search and entry. Consequently, Shah was arrested, taken to Ruaraka Police Station and charged with the offence of obstruction and released on bond.

Continue reading

All Eyes on Standard Bank as Barclays Bank “PRESTIGE BANKING” Trade Mark Published

Prestige Banking Trade Mark Barclays Standard Bank

The image above is a collage of screenshots from the websites of Standard Bank and Barclays Bank showing that both banks have banking products/services branded with the identical words: “Prestige Banking”. In this connection, readers of this blog will no doubt have come across the advertisement of the application for registration of Trade Mark Application (T.M.A) Number 79424 “PRESTIGE BANKING” (WORDS) by Barclays Bank PLC on pages 10-12 of the August 2015 Industrial Property Journal. As a result, this blogger reckons that the stage is set for Standard Bank to oppose the registration of this mark by Barclays Bank, if it so wishes.

In this regard, Standard Bank would also wish to consider the recently published ruling of the Registrar of Trade Mark in the matter referenced as In Re TMA No. 79424 “BARCLAYS PRESTIGE BANKING”, EX PARTE HEARING., 6th February 2015. In this ex parte hearing, Barclays appeared before the Registrar to challenge the latter’s decision to reject Barclays’ applications for “BARCLAYS PRESTIGE BANKING” (WORDS) and “PRESTIGE BANKING” (WORDS) for being similar to the mark SMA NO. 2976 “PRESTIGE PLAN” (WORDS AND DEVICE) in the name of the Standard Bank of South Africa with respect to services of a similar description and character as those in respect of which the applications by Barclays had been made. A copy of the ruling is available here.

Continue reading

Bridgestone Triumphs in “KINGSTONE” Trade Mark Opposition

Kingstone Trade Mark Sichuan Yuanxing Rubber Tire

This blogger has received a copy of a recent trade mark ruling by the Registrar of Trade Marks referenced as In Re TMA No. 68687 “KINGSTONE”, Opposition By Bridgestone Corporation, 25th May 2015. A copy of the ruling is available here.

In this matter, Sichuan Yuanxing Rubber Co. Ltd applied for registration of “KINGSTONE” as a word mark in Class 12 of the International Classification with respect to tyres. Bridgestone Corporation opposed the registration of the mark by stating that its mark “BRIDGESTONE” is a well-known mark in Kenya and around the world registered in various classes including class 12. Therefore Bridgestone argued that the mark “KINGSTONE” is so similar to the its trade marks “BRIDGESTONE” and “FIRESTONE” as to be identical to the latter and Sichuan’s trade mark would be likely to deceive and or cause confusion among the members of the public.

Continue reading

“SONA MOJA” Firm Successfully Opposes “DAWA MOJA STRONG” Trade Mark

SONA MOJA DAWA KENYA

“The mark in consideration in these opposition proceedings is a word mark, “DAWA MOJA STRONG”. The mark is comprised of two Kiswahili words which translate to “MEDICINE” and “ONE” respectively, in the English language. The third element of the mark is the word “STRONG”. This means that considered as a whole, the mark would literary (sic) be translated to mean “ONE STRONG MEDICINE”. It is my view that when such a term is sought to be registered and used as a trade mark for pharmaceutical products, the application must fail because the term does not qualify as a trade mark under the provisions of the Trade Marks Act.” – Assistant Trademark Registrar, Ruling in DAWA MOJA STRONG Trade Mark Opposition.

This blogger has received a copy of a recent trade mark ruling by the Registrar of Trade Marks referenced as In Re TMA No. 75546 “DAWA MOJA STRONG”, Opposition By Dawa Ltd and Sonal Holdings Ltd., 14th April 2015. A copy of the ruling is available here.

Continue reading

Legal Capacity of Distributor in Trade Mark Action: Ruling in Harleys Ltd v Ripples Pharmaceuticals Ltd & Anor

VITABIOTICS LTD UK

This blogger has recently come across the reported case of Harleys Limited v Ripples Pharmaceuticlas Limited & another [2015] eKLR. Vitabiotics Limited, a UK-based drug manufacturing company had previously engaged Ripples Pharmaceutical Limited and Metro Pharmaceuticals Limited to import, distribute and sell their products in Kenya. Thereafter, Harleys Limited became Vitabiotics exclusive distributor in Kenya. Harleys then went to court and obtained temporary orders blocking Ripples and Metro from importing, packaging, selling as well as distributing products bearing a trademark similar or confusingly similar in get-up to the trademarks owned by Vitabiotics.

The court’s ruling was focused on two main issues namely; (1) Whether or not the Harleys had legal standing/locus standi to institute the proceedings? and (2) If so, was Harleys entitled to the orders it had sought in its application?

Continue reading