Liberia: ‘Commercial Court Lacks Jurisdiction Over Trademark Infringement Case’

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November 15, 2016 — In 2014, BAF Trading Corporation (BAF) filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Housseni Kessell, a Lebanese businessman and owner of HK Enterprise. Also included as Defendants in the suit were the Liberia Industrial Property Office (LIPO) and the Ministry of Commence (MOC) for allegedly facilitating the duplication of its trademark certificate to import “Pop Drink” in favor of HK Enterprise, owned by Housseni Kessell.

BAF alleged that it had registered the trademark in 2010 with LIPO but that in 2014, LIPO had allowed HK Enterprise to also register the same trademark.

After two years of battling over the ‘Pop Drink’ trademark, the Commercial court via Judge Chan-Chan Paegar has ruled that the court lacks the legal jurisdiction to determine the case.

At the commercial court, BAF sought Judge Paegar’s approval to declare its legitimate rights to the trademark certificate for Pop Drink which the corporation obtained from LIPO in 2010. The Judge rejected this application stating that in keeping with the law, LIPO has original jurisdiction over the case. The court however listened to the witnesses testimonies during the two years of legal battle.

The administration of all matters relating to the issuance, revocation and safeguarding of industrial marks and patents devolves on the LIPO, and as such, this administrative agency by law, has original jurisdiction over and in all such matters…LIPO is granted the police power to discharge such duties in collaboration with several ministries including justice, commence, finance and related agency of government.” the Judge stated.

The Judge further stated that the court cannot assume and exercise original jurisdiction as was urged by BAF Trading Corporation.”

Source: Liberian Observer

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