Battle for Face of Nollywood trademark
Total Television, an entertainment company is set to hold its first Face of Nollywood Award ceremony in Abuja on December 13. But a representative of Pontiffo, Jeffery Anwar, says the trademark belongs to Pontiffo, reports AKEEM LASISI
Some two years ago, if you saw Jeffery Anwar in a media house, he was mobilising the press for the search for a top, all-round beauty in the Nollywood scene. He was out to see the person that would win the Face of Nollywood, a project that had just been launched by Pontiffo, managed by Image and Profile, with which he was working.
With stars such as Rita Dominic and Ramsey Noah topping the list of possible winners, Anwar's project was already steadily beaming more excitement onto the entertainment scene.
But if you meet him today at any newsroom, he is in for a different story – although on the same project. He would put it as having come to put the record straight; but he is actually out to protest the use of the same title by another organisation, Total Television. According to him, the trade mark that has been endorsed by the Actors Guild of Nigeria, is, therefore, being pirated.
“I am here to address the confusion,” says Anwar, who brought to us, a series of documents that included photographs taken at events that announced Face of Nollywood, Press clips and flyers that promoted the same concept and name in 2006. He adds that the AGN President, Ejike Asiegbu, has made moves to stop Total Television from adopting the same trademark, but that has been to no avail.
But according to investigations by our correspondent, Total Television is not only resolved to have its maiden ceremony on December 13, its management does not see any merit in Anwar's claims. Its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Chike Brian, explains that all the complaints being made by Anwar are null and void. He notes that although he has had discussions with Asiegbu, he and Anwar have not met. Most important, however, Brian explains to our correspondent, prior to the establishment of his own award programme, he was never aware of the existence of any other face-of-Nollywood project.
Of course, based on the process he, according to him, went through to register the trademark, it is doubtful if the law is aware of the initial project also. According to Brian, he did all that is required to register a trademark and the Nollywod Face project at both trademark section of the trade ministry and the Corporate Affairs Commission. Besides, Brian adds, Total Television has duly served a copyright notification on the National Copyright Commission, none of which objected to Total Television's proposals.
Brian, who, however, is not very favourably disposed to the registration documents being published on the page of a newspaper, blames Asiegbu's presidency of the AGN for the current confusion. “If he, Asiegbu, started a face of Nollywood programme with them as he is now claiming, why did he go into an agreement with me initially?” Brian asks. “It is when the MOU was ready for him to sign that he refused to.”
Anwar yet insists that a parley was held in May by the parties involved, at the instance of Asiegbu.
“Asiegbu told them that some people had already started the project in collaboration with the guild,” Anwar adds. “He even suggested that since we had started already, and they too were on it, we could explore the possibility of collaborating.”
Anwar, however, notes that efforts to have the meeting again has not materialised. Besides, he adds, he and his people are not disposed to collaborating because their contents are not the same.
“For instance, while they are going to have separate faces for male and female, we are looking for a single face, as we are considering the industry as a unit.”
As the argument continues, however, Brian demands that anyone who feels uncomfortable with Total Television's programme should have gone to court if he or she is sure of his position.
But Anwar does not seem to be thinking along the line of litigation. According to him, anything that will hurt the film industry should be avoided as much as possible.
“What we are saying is that they should have adopted any other name for their own programme. If they go ahead with the award, they will be setting a bad precedence,” he says.As far as Total Television is concerned, however, the December 13 Face of Nollywood presentation ceremony holding in Abuja is set. In a telephone interview with our correspondent on Tuesday, he even gave the names of the finalists to include Richard Mofe-Damijo, Genevieve Nnaji, Bukky Wright, Emeka Ike, Saidi Balogun, Ramsey Nuoah Junior, Stella Damascus-Aboderin, Kanayo O. Kanaya and Patience Ozokwor.