Indian firms fight for trademarks on electricals sold on Jiji

Two Indian firms have obtained court orders blocking local traders from infringing on its trademarks to market and distribute electrical products.

Havells Limited and QRG Enterprises Limited obtained the High Court order blocking Mr Duncan Maina Gathu and Galactic Systems Limited from marketing and distributing circuit breakers, using its trademarks.

The electrical products are marketed and distributed in an online platform through a company known as Jiji Online Marketplace Kenya Limited.

The two Indian firms said they are the proprietors of Havells trademarks worldwide and have registration or applications in more than 110 countries, including Kenya.

“That pending the hearing and determination of this application an order of temporary injunction is issued restraining the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants either by themselves, their representatives, employees or agents from importation, distribution, listing, marketing and sale of goods bearing any mark which is identical, confusingly or deceptively similar in part of whole or whole to the plaintiffs’ trademarks,” Justice Njoki Mwangi said in the order.

The Indian firms said the local traders have infringed on the registered trademarks and engaged in the importation, distribution and sale of circuit breakers, which bear marks that are similar to theirs.

The court was informed that to protect intellectual property rights, the two firms obtained the registration of trademarks for exclusive use.

Harsh Aggarwal says in an affidavit filed in court that due to extensive use of its registered trademarks globally and in Kenya, the two firms have acquired a substantial and favourable reputation, with accompanying goodwill.

Mr Aggarwal said the local traders are selling or advertising for sale in an unauthorised manner, their products using the online platform.

“The 3rd defendant’s online platform is not only a website or merely a marketplace for the sale of such spurious items in an unauthorised and illegal manner, but also a facilitator of the same,” Mr Aggarwal said.

Jiji Online Marketplace Kenya Limited operates an e-commerce platform, a business-to-consumer platform and connects manufacturers, sellers and resellers in Kenya with buyers.

“Any subsequent adoption and or use of any identical or deceptively similar mark by the defendants would dilute, tarnish and erode the goodwill acquired by the plaintiffs,” Mr Aggarwal said.

The court was informed that, unlike conventional e-commerce marketplace, the customer cannot make a direct immediate purchase but has to click on the contact supplier section to reach out to the seller and make an inquiry first.

Further, the said portal provides special services and features to the buyers and sellers who register on it, to facilitate the transaction between them.

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