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Companies

Reprieve for Rentokil in bins dispute with rival

CASE
Justice Mary Kasango in December ordered Rentokil to deposit Sh50 million in court to act as a guarantee in the dispute. FILE PHOTO \ NMG 

The High Court has granted hygiene services firm Rentokil (K) Ltd a temporary reprieve that lets the firm appeal against an earlier decision allowing a local competitor to collect bins from its premises for presentation before a judge.

The long-running dispute between Sanitam Services (E.A.) Ltd and the Kenyan subsidiary of Rentokil Initial PLC of UK, started in 1999 when Sanitam accused the latter of infringing on its patent.

Sanitam said it registered the design under patent number AP773 for the invention of a foot-operated litter and sanitary disposal bin.

The company then moved to court and sought orders to restrain Rentokil from manufacturing, offering for sale or passing off the foot-operated sanitary bins as theirs.

It was the argument of the Kenyan company that if allowed to distribute the bins, it was likely to cause confusion.

Through an affidavit, Mr Samson Ng’ang’a, the director of Sanitam, said he designed and invented a foot-operated litter or sanitary disposal bin in 1997 for use in the hygienic storage and disposal of sanitary towels, tampons, surgical dressings, serviettes and other waste material.

On its part, Rentokil denied that the foot-operated bin was a patentable invention and claimed that it was in the market for many years before Sanitam claimed its invention.

In May 2017, Justice Fred Ochieng of the High Court authorised Sanitam to enter the premises of Rentokil and get their bins which were brought in in violation of court orders.

But Justice Mary Kasango in December ordered Rentokil to deposit Sh50 million in court to act as a guarantee in the dispute.

While granting the order, she said if the money is not deposited within seven days, Sanitam Services (E.A.) Ltd would be free to raid its premises and seize the bins in contention.

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