Title: Mumias Sugar Company v Njewaka Supermarkets Limited
Venue: High Court at Nairobi (Milimani Commercial Courts)
Case ID: No. 49 of 2006
Authoring Judge: Mary Kasango
Date of Decision: 26th May, 2008
Plaintiff(s): Mumias Sugar Company Limited
Defendant(s): Njewaka Supermarket
Keywords: Passing Off
The plaintiff is the proprietor of the trademark “MUMIAS SUGAR – NATURAL SWEETNESS” which is used in the packaging of its product. The sugar is packed in a square packs bearing the plaintiffs’ registered trademark. The defendant distributed and sold its sugar in the same packs as the plaintiff thereby infringing on the plaintiffs’ get up. The plaintiff sough injunctive orders against the defendant to restrain them from using the same packaging.
Whether the defendant infringed on the plaintiffs’ get up.
The court held that the defendant was using get up confusingly similar to the plaintiffs’ packaging and granted the plaintiff injunctive orders sought.
1. Giella v Cassman Brown Ltd (1972) EA 358
The defendant was served with the plaintiffs application dated 13th February 2006 but did not attend court on day of hearing.
The plaintiff by chamber summons brought under order XXXIX Rule 1 and 2 of the Civil Procedure Rules, Sections 3A and 63 (c) and (e) of the Civil Procedure Act seeks an order of injunction be issued to restrain the defendant from packaging, selling, supplying or contributing sugar under the packets similar and or which is confusingly similar in get up to the sugar processed and packaged by the plaintiff.
The plaintiff arguments are that it is the proprietor of Trade Mark Number 51250 consisting of the words MUMIAS SUGA NATURAL SWEETNESS Registered in class 30 part A of the Trade Mark Act. The plaintiff exhibited a copy of the Registration certificate.
That the plaintiff’s sugar is marketed in a square pack bearing a label comprising the words MUMIAS SUGAR and below these words is the words NATURAL SWEETNESS in green small letters and on the upper part are green stripes and the lower part has blue stripes. The plaintiff exhibited a photograph of that packet.
The plaintiff further argues that its package of sugar in the country has acquired immense goods will and that its reputation is considerable and is recognised by its get up.
It is averred in the plaintiff’s supporting affidavit that in January 2006, the plaintiff’s agent purchased sugar in the defendant’s super market which sugar had packaging in packs similar to those of the plaintiff. That the defendant is packaging that sugar and offering it for sale. The plaintiff exhibited a photograph of that sugar sold and packaged by the defendants.
Having seen that exhibit I do accept the plaintiff’s contention that the defendant packaged sugar is similar to the packaging pack of the plaintiff so as to be an attempt to pass off the defendant’s sugar product as that manufactured, processed and packaged by the plaintiff. That even the colour of the defendant pack is similar to the plaintiffs. The impression that all these similarities given is that the sugar is the plaintiff’s sugar and is designed so as to pass off the product as that of the plaintiff.
In view of the foregoing I do find that the plaintiff has shown a prima facie case with probability of success and does satisfy the first test of GIELLA V CASSMAN BROWN CO. LTD  E.A. 358. The plaintiff is deserving of the order of injunction.
The order of the court is that: -
That a temporary injunction be issued to restrain the defendant whether by itself, its servants, its directors, officers or agents or any of them from packaging selling, supplying or contributing sugar under the packet and or packs that are similar and or which is confusingly similar in get up to the sugar processed and packed by the plaintiff.