Thursday, 3 April 2008

Kenyans celebrate Kikoi win

Afro-Ip has learnt through this report and a telephone conversation with the ever helpful UK IPO that The Kikoy Company UK Limited's application in the UK for KIKOY has been deemed withdrawn through lack of filing of a Counterstatement (a form setting out a defence/response to a Notice of Opposition). The UK IPO letter confirming the withdrawal of the application was sent out on 20 March 2008. As is evident by the Daily Nation report, this is very welcome news for all concerned that exclusivity in the word KIKOY granted in favour of The Kikoy Company through a trade mark registration would have meant that users of the cloth termed "kikoi" may have infringed the registered trade mark, which covered clothing and other goods in class 25 of the International Classification.

The Afro-Leo actually doubts whether use of the word "kikoi" to describe kikois would have infringed the registered mark KIKOY (had it been registered) simply because Section 11 of the UK Trade Marks Act provides that a registered trade mark is not infringed by the honest use of a sign to describe goods or services. How else would one refer to kikois (which it appears everyone accepts as a generic term for a type of cloth or fabric, normally of Kenyan origin)? Afro-Leo is, however, surprised that the application for KIKOY slipped through the usually thorough UK IPO examination process, which would normally spit back a rejection letter for these types of applications stating something like "... the mark applied for is an obvious misspelling of a non distinctive/descriptive term for a type of cloth or fabric, and as a result is not registrable in class 25." He does wonder if the term "kikoi" is protectable as a cloth or fabric from Kenya in the same or similar way that "champagne" is protected for sparkling wines and if Kenyan law makes provision for such protection.

Traidcraft Exchange agreed to spearhead opposition to the application in the UK at the request of a Nairobi-based charity Co-operation for Fair Trade in Africa, according to the Daily Nation report. A previous report highlighting the controversy can be viewed here.

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