Westgate owners lose bid to use Sony name for property dealings
6 months ago, 20 June 01:35
The owners of Westgate Mall have been blocked from registering their Sony Holdings name as a trademark for aspects of business already booked by Japanese electronics giant Sony Corporation in Kenya.
High Court Judge Francis Tuiyott has ruled that Sony Holdings can only register their name as a trademark for four classes – 12, 16, 25 and 4 – which do not clash with the Japanese Sony’s registered trademarks.
The classes Tuiyott allowed Sony Holdings to register for are vehicles, paper and cardboard products, clothing and legal services.
While Justice Tuiyott’s ruling may appear to be a win for both sides, it has dealt a huge blow to Westgate Mall’s owners as they have been barred from registering their Sony Holdings trademark for real estate purposes, which is their core business.
Other than Westgate, Sony Holdings is a co-owner of Rahimtulla Towers in Upper Hill, one of Nairobi’s tallest buildings.
Sony Holdings is owned by Alex Trachtenberg and Vishiali Madan. They had also sought to register their name as a trademark at the Kenya Industrial Property Institute for classes 35, 36, 37 and 39 which relate to advertising, insurance, monetary affairs, real estate affairs, construction and transport.
“In the end, this court can only fault the assistant registrar’s final determination in regards to marks under classes 35,36,37 and 39. Consequently the decision of the assistant Registrar of Trademarks dated June 5, 2015 under these classes is set aside.
The marks under classes 35,36,37 and 39 shall not proceed to registration,” Tuiyott ruled.
Sony Corporation had appealled against the registrar of trademarks’s decision to allow the Westgate Mall owners to register their parent firm’s name as a trademark for all eight classes.
Tuiyott agreed with the registrar of trademarks’s stand that the Japanese multinational failed to prove it is a well-known brand in Kenya.
He said if Sony Corporation had filed evidence to prove it is well known, it would have won the entire case.
“The trouble, however, is that in the absence of proof presented by the parties or matters which the court can take judicial notice, the assistant registrar and this court cannot draw a conclusion from its own personal perception,” Tuiyott said.
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