Commerce Minister’s Absence Prevents Court’s Proceedings

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Failure of Assistant Minister for Trade at the Ministry of Commence (MOC), Steve Marvie, to appear before the Commercial Court at the Temple of Justice on Friday was enough for Judge Chan-Chan Paegar not to go ahead with the special hearing.

Minister Marvie was authorized by the court to appear on Friday to testify and produce the original copy of the trademark certificate issued to H.K. Enterprises, authorizing a Lebanese owned business entity as the sole importer of Pop Drink on the local market.

Minister Marvie was also to produce documents submitted by H.K. Enterprises in support of its application for the registration of the trademark for Pop Drink, which he did not show up to do.

H.K. Enterprises alleged that it obtained the certificate in 2014 from the Liberia Industrial Property Office (LIPO), with supporting documents from Minister Marvie.

But a Liberian business, BAF Trading Corporation, claimed that in 2010 LIPO awarded it (BAF) 10 years as holders of the trademark certificate for the Pop Drink, and without their knowledge, LIPO and MOC duplicated the certificate and gave H.K. Enterprise the right to import said product on the local market.

It was based on that claim that H.K. Enterprises’ legal team asked Judge Paegar to compel Marvie to produce documents in his ministry’s possession on the matter.

At Friday’s hearing, when Atty. Roosevelt Gould, who represented Minister Marvie, appeared, his client was not in the courtroom.

After noticing that Minister Marvie would not attend the hearing, Atty. Gould reminded Judge Paegar that he had something to say in that direction.

When he was given the opportunity, Atty. Gould said, “Based on the order that was issued against Steve Marvie for him to appear and testify in this case, due to some prior official engagement he is unable to heed the court’s request to present documents and to testify.”

Marvie’s lawyer went on, “Therefore, as it is required by said request, he would be available at any point in time when the said writ is reissued. We pray and ask the court that it grants this plea and have him appear in the future.”

Atty. Gould rested with his submission and Judge Paegar did not prescribe any punishment for Minister Marvie not attending to his call; but instead, the judge accepted Atty. Gould’s plea and asked for the minister to appear on Thursday, April 21.

Besides Marvie, LIPO acting director Robert T. Mezzeh was to also appear and explain how H.K. Enterprise obtained the trademark registration from his office to import the product at the center of the dispute.

Mezzeh was the only person who showed up at Friday’s hearing. However, although Mezzeh appeared on Friday, Judge Paegar did not allow him to take the witness stand to produce the documents and testify in the absence of Minister Marvie.

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