February 20, 2015 — The Guardian News is reporting that Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos, has restrained Toyota Motor Corporation of Japan (the 1st Defendant) from trading with its “Lexus & Device” trademark for goods in Classes 9 and 11, on grounds that they are confusingly similar to registered trademarks for electrical products owned by Subaya Metalware Nigeria Limited (the Plaintiff), pending the hearing of a motion on notice.
In 2013, the 1st Defendant, Toyota Motor Corporation, applied to register “Lexus & Device” in Nigeria, with application No. F/TM/O/2013/4233 and F/TM/O/2013/4236 in Classes 9 and 11 respectively. The Application was allowed by the Trademarks Registrar (the 2nd Defendant) and published for opposition purposes in the Online Trademarks Journal Vol. 1 No. 2 of August 14, 2014.
THE PLAINTIFF’S CLAIM
According to the Guardian, the Plaintiff, Subaya Metalware Nigeria, claims to currently hold valid and subsisting certificates of trademark registration since 1996 and 2008 and has built goodwill in the Nigerian market place. The Plaintiff claims to have expended huge amounts of money over the years for the marketing and promotions of its Lexus Fans and Devices, Lexus Ultimate (Stylised), and Lexus Diamond & Device brand of products.
Through its counsel, Peter Shobiye, the Plaintiff filed a motion ex parte against 1st and 2nd Defendants. The motion is supported by a 26 paragraph affidavit sworn to by one Peng Kwong Sam, the General Manager of the Plaintiff.
As stated in the affidavit, the 1st Defendant has through its agent, Jackson, Etti and Edu applied to register Lexis & Device in Classes 9 and 11 in the Nigeria and the 2nd defendant has accepted and published the 1st Defendant’s trademark application No. F/TM/O/2013/4233 and F/TM/O/2013/4236 in Classes 9 and 11 respectively.
The case has been adjourned until March 24, 2015 for the hearing of the Motion on Notice. In the interim, the Federal High Court has restrained the Registrar of Trademarks and its officials from issuing certificates of trademark registration to the 1st Defendant in respect of application No. F/TM/O/2013/4233 and F/TM/O/2013/4236 in Classes 9 and 11 respectively, as trademarks by 1st Defendant on grounds that is likely to infringe, erode, pass-off and be confusingly similar with Plaintiff’s prior registered trademarks.
The court further granted the Plaintiff permission to publish the order in two national newspapers.