Amaga Plc., chemical and foam production company, has leveled trademark infringement charges against Feleke Trading Plc. at the Administrative Tribunal of Trade Competition & Consumer Protection Authority, on Tuesday, it was learnt.
The tribunal presided by Kidane Tsegaye heard the charges from the Authority’s case processor who stood before the tribunal on behalf of Amaga Plc.
Amaga sued Feleke for using a trademark which is confusing and deceptive in relation to the trademark Amaga uses.
Amaga secured a trademark in September 2014 under the name Grace Foam from Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office. The trademark given to Amaga was to be used both in English and Amharic.
Amaga was established in 1998 and is involved in the production and import of merchandises such as furniture, foam, spring mattress as well as detergent products.
Feleke, on the other hand, introduced a foam mattress under the name Grace Foam Sun which the case processor argued to be confusing to customers.
Feleke has been selling the foam under the name Grace Foam Sun since May 2016, according the plaintiff’s statement.
Feleke was said to have applied to Intellectual Property Office for the approval of Grace Foam Sun as its own trademark. The Office, however, refused to accept it and demanded Feleke to amend the name because it was almost similar with the one held by Amaga.
Despite the rejection, Feleke continued to use the trademark, reads the plaintiff’s statement.
Hence, Feleke’s actions goes against the trade competition and consumer protection proclamation number 813/2013, according to the charge. “And it specifically violates article eight of the provision,” reads the charge statement.
The article which is included under the subsection ‘unfair competition’ reads “Any act or practice carried out in the course of trade, which is dishonest, misleading, or deceptive and harms or is likely to harm the business interest of a competitor shall be deemed to be an act of unfair competition.”
Furthermore, Feleke is also sued for committing acts that causes confusion with respect to Amaga’s business activities.
This act by Feleke was alleged to have cost Amaga to lose its market competitiveness.
Responding to the allegations, Feleke argued that it has already changed the trade name from Grace Foam Sun to Wazema Foam and that it should not be sued for an act which no longer exists.
Feleke Trading is mostly known by its flagship product- Hamad Foam. Feleke built its factory with an estimated cost of 20 million birr. Its first plant was established on 20,000 square meters of land in Alem Gena, 26km south-west of Addis Ababa.
The company was then forced to relocate from Alem Gena to Nifas Silk (Addis Ababa) in 2014 after a fire accident destroyed its plant.
Just last year, the company in a joint venture with a local company called Corporate Computer Center Plc. managed to purchase Artistic Press Enterprise from the Ministry of Public Enterprises. The two companies bought the Enterprise at a total cost of 328.8 million Birr.
After hearing the case, the tribunal has adjured the case to August 14, 2017 to give its ruling on Feleke’s defense statement.