Represented by IP lawyers, Oluwaseye Lawal of L & A – Legal Consultants, Mi Fone International has issued an interim injuction stopping the sale of Xiaomi‘s Mi brands in Nigeria before the matter is resolved the Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria.
The interim Injunction against Xiaomi Inc. of China deters anyone selling Xiaomi Mi branded Devices or accessories or any one else selling similar sounding products within the Telecoms sector. By virtue of the injunction, all dealers have to promptly remove such products from their shelves and to desist in further promotion of such products.
From the surface, it looks like an early win for Alpesh Patel , Founder of Mi-Fone. The firm is founded in Africa and designs phones for Africa, even though outsources manufacturing to China. Patel agrees that, “even at this early stage, this injunction is a victory for the rule of law and doing the right things at all times. It is a clear signal from our courts that it is no longer business as usual in Nigeria and the Nigerian courts will always protect intellectual property rights“.
However, this is just the start and it might be a huge blow to Patel if after twelve days, Xiaomi’s devices are back on the shelves. A source similar with Xiaomi products and business says an injunction is not a victory as anyone can get a lawyer to do so. The source argues that the alphabet is limited and no one owns the letters entirely and Mi-Fone and Xiaomi’s Mi brand are totally different.
The logos and designs are totally not the same, the source adds saying Mi-Fone is just afraid of competition as its Mi Tribe brand have an M with a toy like i representing a phone. Xiaomi’s brand simply have it’s Mi derived from its MiUI, a custom-made Android OS for its phones. It’s all fear of competition and quality added the source.
“We certainly don’t mind any competition but we cannot also afford to have confusion amongst consumers with two separate brands bearing the same Mi product brand name“says Patel. “We have recently launched our mi-Tribe series of products with Konga Online and Nigeria has and will always be a key market for us. We may not be the biggest but we sure are committed to delivering.”
At this point, consumers in Nigeria are left to choose between brand and quality which Xiaomi beats at most standards being $45 billion worth company and the best smartphone vendor in China just after its launch five years ago. Xiaomi has launched in Africa’s three key markets-Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya.