In a recent media report here, the Commercial Court of Nyarugenge in Rwanda has ruled that it will not proceed with a case filed by Innscor International accusing two local companies Chicken Inn Limited and Pizza Inn Limited of trademark infringement in Rwanda. The basis of this ruling was reportedly that Innscor had not demonstrated to the court that it had “legal status according to the law governing registered entities in Rwanda”. Technicalities aside, it is clear that once Innscor produces its certificate of incorporation in court, this case would proceed to consider the merits of Innscor’s claim (as illustrated by the picture above), namely that registration of a name as a company name by entity A should not trump any rights in such a name acquired previously by entity B through trade mark law.
“…the mere lack of a legal regime in our jurisdiction that address the question image rights cannot be taken to mean that persons who suffer wrongs cannot seek redress from courts of law when in actual fact they are aggrieved.” – Hon. Justice Peter Adonyo in Asege Winnie v. Opportunity Bank (U) Ltd & Anor  UGCOMMC 39
This blogger has come across a recent High Court judgment from Uganda in the case of Asege Winnie v. Opportunity Bank (U) Ltd & Anor  UGCOMMC 39 which sheds new light on the emerging topic of personality rights and protection of image rights, which is not catered for in a perfect “unified” legal system but rather in a combination of rights and causes of action under the Constitution, common law and various statutes on intellectual property, defamation and consumer protection.
This blogger has come across a recent ruling in the case of Africa Management Communication International Limited v Joseph Mathenge Mugo & another  eKLR. In this case, the court declined to find the defendants (which included 2 ex-employees of the plaintiff) in contempt of court orders made preventing them from passing off and carrying themselves as a sister or associate company of the plaintiff (a former employer of the defendants). In addition the plaintiff sought to have the ex-employees committed in prison for three months for violating orders restraining one of the ex-employees from being a director in the 2nd defendant company for a stipulated period of 18 months.
This blogpost examines this case which illustrates the importance of ensuring that employers take proactive steps to secure all their intellectual property (IP) assets against employees no longer in employment and that such former employees are reasonably restrained by contract from trading using the IP assets of the former employer.
The High Court recently delivered its judgment in the case of Vivo Energy Kenya Limited v Kenya Revenue Authority  eKLR holding that the Commissioner of Domestic Taxes erred for concluding that a non-exclusive and non-transmissible license to use “Shell” trade marks was a sale of a property giving rise to royalty within the meaning of Section 2 of the Income Tax Act and hence chargeable to tax.
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 email@example.com 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.
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.