Kenyan firm hits out at Barclays in trade name case

A Barclays Bank branch in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A Barclays Bank branch in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Kenyan firm that is laying claim to the Absa trade name has hit back at Barclays Bank of Kenya (BBK) #ticker:BBK , accusing the lender of treating its imminent financial loss as “collateral damage” in its continental expansion.

ABSA Kenya Limited has in court papers sought to dismiss the explanation by BBK, which had said that Absa Bank Limited (South Africa), a sister company, applied for registration of the name at the Registrar of Trademarks and was granted permission on September 20, 2016.

But the Kenyan firm, which is in court seeking to stop Barclays Bank of Kenya from adopting the Absa name, says that the registration in favour of BBK was done fraudulently to deprive Absa Kenya exclusive use of the name.

“The defendant’s actions reek of malice and are clothed in the arrogance of a conquering multinational and is treating the plaintiff’s imminent loss as collateral damage in its pursuit of new business territories,” says Absa Kenya in its response to BBK’s court filings.

ABSA Kenya Limited is seeking to permanently restrain Barclays from adopting Absa as a trade name following 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.

But in its response the bank argues that there is no conflict between the use of the name since the two firms obtained exclusive use in different categories.

The lender further argues that there are at least 12 other companies that have incorporated the word Absa in their corporate names, claiming that the Kenyan firm should not ask for exclusive use.

Absa Kenya, however, says its search returned two other names that it says have since been served with demand to cease use of the name, noting that just because some other firm has infringed does not give ticket to the firm to also infringe on the copyright.