Law News
NNPC drags CAC, others to court over trademark infringement

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Retail Limited, has dragged the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, and Natural Network Petroleum and Gas Company Limited, NNPG, to court, alleging an infringement on its trademark.

Also cited as defendants in the suit marked FHC/AK/99/15, was the Registrar of Trade Marks, Patent and Designs.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, the Managing Director of NNPC Retail Limited, Mr. Fagbola Ladipo, maintained that the suit was a consequence of the anti-corruption campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said the firm had also commenced similar legal action against an indigenous firm, Mummy Nigeria Limited, over the same subject matter.
Ladipo said the infringement on the NNPC trademark by the first defendant (NNPG), had dwindled sales of NNPC in Ondo State.

He alleged that 1st defendant was imitating NNPC “by using its colour combination of red, yellow, green, uniform, emblem and the acronym NNPG to deceive the public,” describing it as sabotage on the effort of the present administration to provide petroleum products to the common man.

In its writ, the plaintiff is praying the court for a declaration that ‘NNPG’ mark is phonetically and alphabetically and confusingly identical/similar to NNPC’s trademark.

Specifically, it prays the court to make an order of perpetual injunction restraining NNPG from selling, offering any service, advertising for sale or promoting howsoever the name and consequently the acronym of NNPG in any of its service outlets, or any similar acronym, mark design and / or trade logo identical or similar to its own.

It also wants the court to direct CAC pursuant to Section 31(1) and (4) of the Companies and Allied Matters act, 1990 to remove the NNPG’s name from its record being similar with its registered trademark, NNPC.

NNPC further wants the court to direct the Registrar of Trademarks, Patent and Designs never to accept for registration the word NNPG or any word or color combination so closely identical or similar to its own.

The plaintiff further wants to the court to stop NNPG from using similar/identical colors/combination of colors to that of the plaintiff as its retail outlets.

In addition, it wants the court to restrain NNPG from infringing or assisting others to infringe on the plaintiff’s registered trademark, colors/combination of colors, totems, insignia and emblem.

The plaintiff is also asking the court to order NNPG to remove all sign posts, names/acronyms with letters NNPG and any such identical/similar design infringing on its trademark with immediate effect.

Besides, the plaintiff is praying the court for the sum of N5 million being exemplary damages and N10 million as general damages for the infringement and passing off of its trademark and design.

In its statement of claim, the plaintiff avers that sometime in 2015, it discovered that 1st defendant sells and continues to sell petroleum products under the confusing brand design of NNPG, at the very least, confusingly similar to that of the plaintiff’s registered trademark NNPC in Akure, Ondo State.

Ladipo said the suit which is currently before Justice I.M Sanni of the Federal High Court sitting in Akure, has already been slated for hearing on November 10.

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