Coca Cola tells court Pop Cola may not have registered product trademark
Coca Cola on Monday told a Federal High Court in Kano that rival Nigerian beverage, Pop Cola, appears not have proper documented evidence to show that it has acquired the statutory registered trade mark certification for its product from the patent regulatory agencies in Nigeria.
Counsel to Coca Cola in the patent suit between the two rivals, Mark Mordi, SAN said the defendants were yet to be formally issued with a trade mark certificate.
Addressing the court on the interlocutory application seeking to stop Pop Cola from using the stripe ribbon crossing on its product, he told the court that the issue before it was for the determination of the labeling of the product manufactured by the defendants.
According to him, the plaintiff in the matter is not contesting the design of the defendant’s bottle, but rather the labeling of the defendant’s product, which in legal thinking should be considered by the court as a mix and should be so declared.
The plaintiff also noted that exhibit MBL 2 in the matter was a letter written to Pop Cola by Nigeria Copyrights Commission, which states that the registration of Pop Cola trade mark was still being possessed, adding that the letter could not be interpreted to mean that Pop Cola owns the trade mark.
He said all relevant legal authorities will be supplied to the court.
Counsel to the plaintiff had presented two distinct bottles of beverages to buttress to the court the issue of similarity that has been the legal contention between Coca Cola and Pop Cola.
Counsel to the defendants, Offiong Offiong, SAN told the court that Coca Cola could not claim exclusivity to the use of the word “Cola”, explaining that the word is generic.
He argued that Coca Cola was hiding under the guise of trade mark ownership to claim exclusivity to the use of the word “Cola”.
Offiong further told the court that the issue of similarity is about distinctiveness, adding that a mark must be something distinct, which applies to the brand paraded by Pop Cola as against the claim by the plaintiff.
According to him, Coca Cola has not established its case of claimed legal rights over the exclusivity of the stripe crossing on the duo beverages, which is the issue of contention before the court.
He dismissed what he described as appropriation of exclusivity to the use of the word “Cola” and ribbon on Pop Cola.
The presiding judge, Hon Justice Nasiru Yunus adjourned to 22 February for ruling on the interlocutory application.
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