AGF QUERIES MINISTRY OVER KEKE NAPEP TRADEMARK
RELYING on Section 38 of the Trademarks Act, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, has declared the registration of 'Keke NAPEP' as a trademark in favour of Autobahn Techniques Limited as illegal.
This followed a petition written to the Attorney General of the Federation by the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) asking it to intervene in the decision of the Registrar of Trademarks in the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry to register 'Keke NAPEP' as a trademark for a private company- Autobahn Techniques Limited.
Declaring the registration as improper, Adoke wondered why the ministry allowed the registration in the name of a private company, especially as it had the tendency to deceive or cause confusion. He described the action as inimical to the interest of the Federal Government.
In a letter to the Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the AGF noted: 'It is clear from the agreement between NAPEP and Autobahn that the term 'Keke NAPEP' refers to the tricycles imported by NAPEP on behalf of the Federal Government for the purpose of its poverty alleviation programme rather than to Autobahn's 'PIAGGIO' brand or specification of tricycles manufactured in Italy. Indeed, the name itself- 'Keke NAPEP'- clearly suggests a relationship between the tricycle and NAPEP and not otherwise. In any case, this is a notorious fact in Nigeria.
'Given the circumstances, it is my considered view that the registration of the trade mark 'Keke NAPEP' by Autobahn is calculated to prejudice and in fact, is prejudicial to NAPEP and the Federal Government in the sense that NAPEP will be precluded from importing tricycles for its poverty alleviation programme from sources other than Autobahn as well as from using the name 'Keke NAPEP' for such tricycles as well as from the view that the use of such a trademark by Autobahn is likely to deceive or cause confusion in the sense that the general public will be led into believing that Autobahn's 'Keke NAPEP' is associated with the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) of the Federal Government of Nigeria and thereby attracting undue patronage to the Autobahn's brand of tricycle.'
Querying why the Registrar of Trademarks did not refuse the application of Autobahn Techniques Limited for the registration of the trademark 'Keke NAPEP,' he made reference to Section 11 (a) of the Trade Marks Act, which makes it unlawful to register any matter the use of which is likely to deceive or cause confusion.
He went on: 'It is also my considered opinion that the registration of 'Keke NAPEP' in favour of Autobahn Techniques Limited, not being a lawful registration, may be expunged from the register by virtue of Section 38 of the Trade Marks Act. This, in my opinion, is, by the combined effect of sections 38 and 56 (b) of the Act, within the power of the Registrar of Trade Marks to rectify.'
The directive from the Attorney General of the Federal and Minister of Justice puts to rest months of face-off between the management of Autobahn Techniques Limited and the Federal Government over the ownership of the 'Keke NAPEP' trademark.