A day before Judge Chan-Chan Peagar of the Commercial Court is expected to make public the full text of his “pop drink” trademark infringement ruling, BAF Trading Corporation, which filed the lawsuit against H.K. Enterprise owned by Lebanese national Houssan Kafiel, has promised to use all of its resources to challenge the court’s decision, even up to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court.
Last Monday, Judge Peagar, in his three-minute ruling, said, “The two parties, BAF and H.K. Enterprise, failed to register trademark in the country, according to the Intellectual Property Law.”
He also ruled that the Lebanese-owned entity has the legal right to the disputed pop drink trademark, while in the same breath admitting that they obtained the trademark certificate in 2014, as opposed to BAF, which obtained it in 2010 for a ten-year period.
In an interview with journalists yesterday at his Vai Town office in Monrovia, BAF’s Import Manager Boubacar S. Balde said they acquired the trademark legally from the Liberia Industrial Property Office (LIPO) responsible for the protection and promotion of intellectual property rights in the country, as well as the Ministry of Commence (MOC).
“We are not going to allow both government institutions with support of the court to deny us of our right,” Balde said.
According to him, they thought that they were doing the right thing when they took their case to the Commercial Court, where the case went the wrong way.
“We will not allow the influence of money to make this foreigner to take away our legitimate business right,” he added.
Even if the Supreme Court fails to give his company justice, the BAF import manger promised they would run to the ECOWAS Court for redress.
“If it will cause us to close down our business for the case, we are prepared to do so,” Balde insisted.
Tearfully recounting the effort and financial difficulty they incurred to promote pop drink in the market, Balde said when they got the permission from the manufacturer of the product in Indonesia to import pop drink, they traveled to every part of the country to introduce it.
“We promoted the product to the extent that people were getting interested in it, before the Lebanese man with the help of LIPO and MOC got involved in 2014,” BAF Import manager emphasized.
According to him, they were approached by LIPO in 2009 to register the trademark for their own protection.
“We accepted their proposal and thought we were doing the right thing, but they duplicated our trademark certificate and issued it to H.K. Enterprise, which has caused us damages,” said a tearful Balde.