Monday, October 5, 2015

NNPC retail sues NNPG, CAC over trademark infringement

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Retail Limited has dragged the Natural Network Petroleum and Gas Company Limited and two others to Justice I.M. Sanni of a Federal High Court in Akure over alleged infringement on its trademark.
The NNPC had in a suit filed by its counsel, Muyiwa Atoyebi, with case no: FHC/AK/99/15 joined Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and Registrar of Trade Marks, Patent and Designs as 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.
The plaintiff had also in a separate suit sued Flory Mummy Nigeria Limited over the same subject matter.
When the matter came up on Friday‎, the court granted an order that CAC and the Registrar of Trade Marks be served with the writ in their corporate office in Abuja.
 
Addressing newsmen in Abuja over the weekend, the Managing Director of NNPC Retail Limited, Mr. Fagbola Ladipo stated that the suit was a follow up to the anti-corruption campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari in his bid to completely root out corruption in the country.
 
Asides that, Mr Ladipo stated that the infringement on the NNPC trademark by the first defendant had began to cause a dwindling in the sales of NNPC in Ondo state.
 
He also noted that the first defendant is imitating NNPC by using its color combination of red, yellow, green, uniform, emblem and the acronym NNPC to deceive the public‎ adding that such had such is a sabotage of government effort to provide petroleum products to the common man.
 
In its writ, the plaintiff is praying the court for a declaration‎ that the first defendant 'NNPG' mark is phonetically and alphabetically confusingly identical/similar to NNPC's trademark.
 
The plaintiff however prays the court to make an order of perpetual injunction restraining NNPG from selling, offering any service, advertising for sale or promoting howsoever the name and consequently the acronym of NNPG in any of its service outlets, or any similar acronym, mark design and / or trade logo identical or similar to its own.
 
‎It also wants the court to direct CAC pursuant to Section 31(1) and (4) of the Companies and Allied Matters act, 1990 to remove the NNPG's name from its record being similar with its registered trademark, NNPC.
 
NNPC further wants the court to direct the Registrar of Trademarks, Patent and Designs never to accept for registration the word NNPG or any word or color combination so closely identical or similar to its own.

The plaintiff ‎further  wants to the court to stop NNPG from using similar/identical colors/combination‎ of colors to that of the plaintiff as its retail outlets.

In addition, it wants the court to restrain NNPG from infringing or assisting others to infringe on the plaintiff's registered trademark, colors/combination of colors, totems, insignia and emblem.

The plaintiff is also asking the court to order NNPG to remove all sign posts, names/acronyms with letters NNPG and any such identical/similar design infringing on its trademark with immediate effect.

NNPC also prays the court for the sum N5 million being exemplary damages and N10 million as general damages  for the infringement and passing off of its trademark and design.

In its statement of claim, the plaintiff avers that sometime in 2015, it discovered that 1st defendant sells and continues to sell petroleum products under the confusing brand design‎ of NNPG, at the very least, confusingly similar to that of the plaintiff's registered trademark NNPC in Akure, Ondo state.

It further avered that the 1st defendant with the intention to decieve unsuspecting general public has also adopted and continually used for its commercial benefit, in its retain outlets/service stations that exact unique color/combination of colors with very similar enblem of its own.

In its particulars of misrepresentation, the plaintiff avers that the acronym NNPG, coupled with the entire features of its colour combination is associated ‎in the mind of the public as the plaintiff's service outlet NNPC.

Furthermore in its particulars to damage to ‎business and goodwill, the plaintiff states that it is widely known for selling at government regulated price and quality, while the first defendant has engaged in the habit of selling far above the government regulated price.

It also avers that the volume of its sales in Ondo state for petroleum products is declining and will continue to decline and the plaintiff company will be adversely affected by use and continous infringement of its trademark.

The court had however fixed November 10 for hearing.

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