KENYA – Two breakfast cereal firms have resorted to settling their dispute over a label out of court.
In the settlement, Manji Foods Industries is required to sell all its Multibix products by May 30 and settle legal fees incurred by Weetabix.
Weetabix managing director, Mr Ashan Manji, said the two firms have agreed on an out-of-court settlement.
Weetabix had sued Manji for the use of ‘bix’ suffix in its Multibix product, which was launched in 2010. Weetabix said ‘bix’ is its registered name.
“We cannot allow anyone to use our registered trade mark. We asked Manji to stop using the name but they declined. We filed a court case, whose ruling came out in February,” Mr Manji said.
In the ruling, Mr Justice Eric Ogola said Manji had infringed on Weetabix trademark and ordered the company to recall all its Multibix biscuits from supermarket shelves.
CONTINOUS FINANCIAL LOSS
Manji was also ordered to pay Weetabix the cost of damages for the period that Multibix has been in the market.
Manji Food Industries has complied with the deal. Through a public notice in the media recently, it warned all dealers to clear their shelves of Multibix by May 30, or risk being jailed.
“This is to notify all the members of the public that by a settlement between Weetabix Limited and Manji Food Industries, it has been agreed that any person found stocking or promoting the biscuit product Multibix shall be liable for contempt of court,” the notice read.
The notice further warned the public that, “after May 30, 2015, Weetabix Limited or its authorised agents shall be at liberty to seize, confiscate and destroy all the offending packaging and any person found in possession shall indemnify Manji Food Industries Limited for the costs of enforcement in addition to the court sanction stated herein.”
Manji administration manager Christopher Nzioka stated that ‘Weetabix’ and ‘Bix’ is the exclusive right and property of Weetabix Ltd.
In 2010, when Multibix was launched, Weetabix had asked the court to temporarily stop Manji from selling the product, arguing that failure to do so would expose it to “continuous financial loss”.
Manji had denied Weetabix’s allegations, saying Multibix was not intended to confuse Weetabix’s customers and that it was an independent brand.
The fight over the trademark began when Manji failed in an attempt to register Multibix as a trademark. Weetabix opposed Manji’s application at the registrar of trademarks.
Weetabix managing director, Mr Manji, said Multibix was placed on the supermarket shelves next to their products, making customers think that it was Weetabix’s product.
He said the firm had suffered continuous financial losses because of Multibix.