Court Clears Deputy Minister in Trademark Case

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The Commercial Court at the Temple of Justice has cleared Mr. Steve Marvin, Deputy Minister for Commerce, from an investigation conducted by the ministry about a “trademark infringement” allegation levied against H.K. Enterprise, a Lebanese owned business by BAF Trading Corporation.

The court took the decision after Minister Marvin clarified two letters at the center of the trademark dispute.

The two letters are dated April 29, 2014 and January 14, 2015.

The April 29 letter came from Forezer Nusapersadea, the agent of PT Forezer, the Indonesian Company that manufactured the Pop Drink and is allegedly addressed to Deputy Minister Marvin.

The other letter under the caption “To Whom It May Concern” is allegedly from PT Forezer, also addressed to him.

Although the content of the letters were not allowed to be read in court, LIPO relied on the letters to allegedly issue BAF’s ten-year trademark to H.K. Enterprise to import Pop Drink into the country.

When Deputy Minister Marvin took the witness stand he said, the letter under the caption “To Whom It May Concern” dated January 14, 2015, believed to have come from PT Forezer, was never addressed to him.

But he said it was the letter dated April 29, 2014 from Forezer Nusapersadea that he had in his possession.

“I do not fully comprehend the reason behind Forezer Nusapersadea, because I never communicated with said company prior to receiving the letter on April 29, 2014,” he explained.

He was requested to testify regarding proceedings at the Ministry of Commerce with respect to the trademark dispute.

In his testimony about the ministry’s involvement in the disputed trademark investigation, which he was accused of being a part of, Marvin said he did not take part in the investigation that gave H.K. Enterprise exclusive rights to import Pop Drink into the country.

BAF Trading Corporation instituted a petition for declaration of judgment against H.K. Enterprise claiming that the company without any legal basis obtained its trademark, which gives BAF a ten-year exclusive right to be the sole importer of Pop Drink into Liberia.

A similar lawsuit was filed against the Liberia Industrial Property Office (LIPO) and the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), of which Deputy Minister Marvin was cleared.

LIPO, which is by law responsible to issue trademarks to businesses in the country, was accused of being behind the trademark obtained by H.K. Enterprise to import the product.

The MOC was also accused of issuing an Import Declaration Permit (IDP) that facilitated H.K. Enterprise to bring the Pop Drink into the country, for which Deputy Minister Marvin was also cleared of involvement.

However, the court has already upheld the declaration judgment requested by BAF against the two public entities (MOC and LIPO).

The action was based on the MOC and LIPO’s refusal to appear before the court to exonerate themselves from the allegation.

Besides Minister Marvin, LIPO Acting Director General Robert Mezzeh was expected to appear to testify to documents in their possession relative to the case, but did not appear due to poor health.

He has, however, been replaced by one Mr. Prince E. Deta to produce the documents today.

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