Kenyan sweet manufacturer, Kenafric Industries Limited, has been sued by New-York’s Time Warner over the use of its cartoon trademarks, testing the application of global copyright laws in Kenya.
The Cartoon Network Inc, a TV unit of the American company wants Kenafric Industries Limited stopped from wrapping its sweets with packages branded BEN 10; which is a flagship cartoon channel of the US giant.
The TV unit says that what the sweet company is doing can damage the reputation of the BEN 10 cartoon characteras well as the goods branded with the label toys, video games and clothing which have a value of KSh275 billion.
In a document filed in court, the Cartoon Networks vice president Louise Sams said: “The defendant’s (Kenafric) use of the name BEN 10 amounts to trade mark infringement of BEN 10 Trademarks, the unauthorized reproduction or adaptation or publication or broadcast or sale or distribution or possession or importation of the offending chewing gum constitutes copyright infringement.”
He claims further that both Kenafric and Cartoon Network use the same distribution channels, which it says could easily lead to the association of the Kenafric chewing gums with its cartoons.
Cartoon Network is relying on Madrid Agreement on International registration of Trade Mark adopted in April 1891 and the International registration of Trade Marks adopted in Madrid in June 1989.
The Madrid Protocol says that once a trademark is registered in a country which is signatory to Madrid Protocol, it becomes protected in all other countries which have adopted the treaty. The company, therefore, says having registered its BEN 10 as a trademark in United States, it becomes a protected in Kenya too.
Kenafric Industries Limited is yet to respond to Cartoon Network’s claims.
This calls for the attention of the government of Kenya to start enforcing the copyright laws.