African Court Flexes Their Muscles

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1 May 2015

Policy making and implementation in most African countries is perceived as slow, and often imitates European or US practices that aren’t particularly suited to emerging economies. External challenges such as political instability, poverty, corruption and disease hamper many African states and limit investment in innovation, education, trade and other drivers of competition and IP development.

However, in recent months, various African courts have decisively addressed trade mark issues that are subject to international debate. These courts have dealt with questions regarding the lawfulness of bidding on a competitor’s trademark in a Google AdWords campaign; recognition of product shapes as trademarks; the enforceability of ‘limping’ marks; and new methods of trademark comparison. While some of these decisions have yet to become final, they raise pertinent considerations for trademark owners and practitioners. Many have become the source of public debate and have reinforced an appreciation for the complexities of applied trademark law.

This article highlights recent decisions that demonstrate the evolution in the application of certain rules, establish new precedents and serve as a reminder that Africa should not be overlooked as a source of articulate and progressive reasoning on legal trademark development.

Read more. Cases featured include Nestlé SA v International Foodstuffs (Iffco), Lucky Star v Lucky Brands, Shimansky and Another v Browns the Diamond Store, Adcock Ingram v Cipla and Discovery Holdings v Sanlam.

Written for and published by World Trademark Review

By Christine Strutt, Copyright and Trademark Attorney

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