Judge Finds MOC, LIPO in Violation of International Property Laws

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The Ministry of Commence (MOC) and the Liberia Industrial Property Office (LIPO) violated the intellectual property laws (IPL) by issuing BAF’s registered trademark to H.K. Enterprise in 2014.

According to Judge Chan-chan Paegar, they also violated the IPL when they subsequently terminated the ten year rights they awarded to BAF as the sole importer and distributor of Pop Drink on the local market in 2010.

Judge Paegar’s action was based on the MOC and LIPO’s failure to appear before the court since the case started in November 2015, despite several calls.

BAF filed a lawsuit against MOC, LIPO and H.K. Enterprise claiming millions of United States dollars in damages as a result of the action.

BAF further alleged that the action of government institutions contravened Article 43(4) (A) page (20 to 21) of the Trademark Law.

Apart from the Ministry and LIPO, the H.K. Enterprise has been the only entity that had appeared before the court and testified against BAF’s allegation, on which BAF’s lawyers had asked the court to enter a default judgment against the two state run institutions.

At last Thursday’s hearing, Judge Paegar did not say when he would enforce his decision.

He said the court noted the application by BAF lawyers for the entry of a judgment perfecting a default which was previously entered by the court against MOC and LIPO.

“The application is not resisted by the two defendants because of their absence from these proceedings,” he said.

The lawyers are pushing for the court to award their client significant relief in their absence, including monetary, totaling millions, and punitive damages.

At the onset of the trial in November 2015, BAF’s lawyers asked the court to enter a default judgment against the MOC and LIPO because they had failed to appear before it to respond to their allegations, a request Judge Paegar finally accepted.

“The two public entities must be made to pay over US$1million in total monetary relief,” according to the default judgment the prosecutor asked the court to enter on its behalf for the continued absence of the MOC and LIPO.

LIPO is a government entity responsible for issuing trademarks while the MOC is responsible for issuing Import Permit Declaration (IPD), among others.

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