Get this! Apparently, Sony is not a well-known brand in Kenya. So much so that it cannot claim exclusive industrial property rights to the name Sony.
That is according to High court judge, Justice Francis Tuiyot who made a ruling in a suit pitting Sony Corporation (the global Japanese tech giant) with a local Kenya property developer in real estate Sony Holdings.
The two companies were entangled in a protracted legal battle following claims by Sony Corporation that the act by the property developer to call their company Sony Holding was an infringement of their exclusive rights over the ‘Sony’ tag.
The Judge’s ruling found Sony Corporation without any legal base to claim exclusive rights to use the ‘Sony’ tag. As it was simply not that popular in the Kenyan market.
“The conclusion by the Assistant Registrar, and now upheld by this court, that the appellant had failed to prove that Sony is a well-known trademark in Kenya may be shock to many. Is it not obvious to the assistant registrar and the judge that Sony is a well-known global brand it can be asked?” said Judge Tuiyot.
The judge ruled that the court will not draw a conclusion from its own personal perception. The judge simply agreed with the assistant registrar that Sony Corporation provided no evidence of its popularity in the local market. They could, therefore, establish just how well-known the Sony brand is in Kenya.
For the record, Sony Corporation did produce evidence of numerous international events and sports activities it has sponsored around the world. However, they failed to produce evidence (in a million) of such events and sports in Kenya.
The judge argued that while the petitioner claimed that Sony is registered and used in over 200 countries around the world. There was no evidence the company produced to support the same. The evidence produced by the multinational was also found wanting because it tabled its global sales report, but there were no figures specifically for Kenyan sales.
The Registrar of Trademarks further argued that Sony Holdings has been carrying out only real estate business since its inception. It does not use the Sony’s name to deceive the public into buying its electronic devices, as it does not produce any.