The Commercial Case Law Index is a collection of judgments from African countries on topics relating to commercial legal practice. The collection aims to provide a snapshot of commercial legal practice in a country, rather than present solely traditionally "reportable" cases. The index currently covers 400 judgments from Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.
Get started on finding judgments that are relevant to you by browsing the topic list on the left of the screen. Click the arrows next to the topic names to reveal a detailed list of sub-topics. Most judgments are accompanied by a short summary written by subject-matter expert postgraduate students from the University of Cape Town.
Trademark – Infringing mark resembles with the plaintiff’s mark – Infringement proved
This case concerned an application for an injunction restraining the respondents from selling or enforcing a mortgage in respect of the applicant’s mortgaged properties, pending the determination of a civil suit.
A preliminary objection was raised that the second, third, fourth and fifth applicants’ application was not supported by affidavit evidence. The court held that the first applicant’s supporting affidavit and supplementary affidavit would remain intact, and the applicant’s case would survive. Striking out the second to fifth applicants would not do away with the substance of the application.
The grounds for granting an injunction are that the applicant must prove a prima facie case with a likelihood of success; the applicant is likely to suffer irreparable injury that would not be adequately compensated for by damages; and if the court is in doubt it will decide the matter on a balance of convenience. As regards the first ground the court held that there was no prima facie case or serious question to be tried that had the potential of avoiding realization of the outstanding loan amount. This ground was based on whether the contract between the applicant and first respondent was frustrated, in that the applicant was still awaiting payment for the petroleum products sold; the purchase of which was funded by a loan from the respondent. As a result, the applicant contended it could not repay the loan. Evidence showed that there was a delay in payment, and not frustration of contract.
The application for an injunction was dismissed.
The plaintiff was a registered owner of "Feathers" sanitary pads and claimed that the defendant imported "Featlhers" sanitary pads to be sold in Uganda. The court considered whether the plaintiff had exclusive use of a trademark which was infringed by importation and sale of a product.
The court held that s 36 of the Trade Marks Act grants exclusive use of a mark, which is infringed if a person who is not the owner of that mark uses it and causes confusion to average consumers. Civil proceedings may be instituted in terms of s 79(1). According to ss 79(3) and (4), the grant of an injunction does not affect a claim of damages, direct loss of sales and consequent loss of profits as well as the depreciation of the goodwill. Section 81(1) provides that one available form of relief is an account of profits to the plaintiff.
The court found that the plaintiff had exclusive use of the trademark. Despite the minor differences the goods were the same visually, conceptually, phonetically and belonged to the same class of goods. Therefore, concluded that the goods would likely confuse reasonable consumers. The defendants were guilty of infringement of the trademark by selling and importation of the sanitary pads. The plaintiff did not deal with the actual loss of sales, and no evidence was adduced to show that the counterfeit goods were circulating in Uganda.
The plaintiff's complaints were upheld. The court granted costs, ordered the destruction of the impounded goods, permanent injunction and general damages.