Barclays’ looming change of name to ABSA challenged


Barclays Bank of Kenya chairman Charles Muchene speaks during the release of the lender’s financial results for 2017. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG

Barclays Bank of Kenya’s #ticker:BBK looming change of trade name to ABSA has run into strong headwinds after a Kenyan company moved to court for orders stopping the shift on grounds that it reserved and has been using the name for more than a decade.
ABSA Kenya Limited is seeking to permanently restrain Barclays from adopting ABSA as the trade name in line with the recent changes in the bank’s ownership at the continental level.

ABSA Kenya, which was incorporated in 2005, says it reserved the name with the registrar of trademarks for exclusive use and that it has incurred huge financial losses since Barclays announced plans to rebrand.

The losses, it says, arise from the confusion that the coming into the market of another entity with a similar name has and is bound to cause among its clients.

The Kenyan firm is seeking “a permanent injunction restraining the defendant, its servants, agents and/or employees from trading, using, representing or in any other manner whatsoever, the trademark and the name ABSA or its derivatives, corollaries devices and or ancillaries in Kenya or any other place or at all.”  

Barclays is yet to respond to the suit.

ABSA Kenya claims that it is the exclusive owner of the trademark ‘ABSA’ having registered it under the trademark laws of Kenya on May 25, 2007.

The firm says Barclays has carried out a massive media campaign that has occasioned it huge losses after many clients cancelled various transactions on the grounds that it is no longer possible to tell who ABSA is.

READ: Barclays reassures customers amid name change, staff exits

ABSA has produced tax returns documents, details of a website domain it claims to have been registered in 2005 and registration documents to back up its case.

The company says since inception it has operated bank accounts and filed tax returns at the Registrar of Companies all under its ABSA name.

It is accusing Barclays of negligence, arguing that a search at the companies’ registry and the trademark registry would have showed the true ownership of the ABSA name.

Barclays is also accused of failing to stop using the name even after being served with a demand.

Edward Njuguna, in a sworn affidavit, says that he, together with his wife, founded ABSA Kenya in 2005 and started engaging in small businesses such as cleaning services and investing in stock market.

They officially incorporated the company in October 2006 and registered its trademark after paying the required fees.

Mr Njuguna says ABSA Kenya renewed use of the trademark for a further 10 years on May 25, 2017.