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NNPC Drags Filing Station To Court Over Alleged Trademark Infringements

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BEVERLY HILLS, October 04, (THEWILL) – Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Retail Limited has dragged a filling station, Natural Network Petroleum and Gas Company Limited (NNPG) , before a Federal High Court sitting in Akure, the Ondo State capital, over alleged trademark infringements.

NNPC is asking the court to stop the filling station from using the logo, emblem and name that appear similar to its own.

‎In the suit filed through its counsel, Muyiwa Atoyebi, and marked FHC/AK/99/15, the oil corporation joined Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and Registrar of Trade Marks, Patent and Designs as the 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.

Last Friday,‎ Justice I.M Sanni granted an order that CAC and the Registrar of Trade Marks be served with the writ at their corporate offices in Abuja.

Briefing newsmen in Abuja at the weekend, the Managing Director of NNPC Retail Limited, Mr. Fagbola Ladipo, said the suit was a follow up to the anti-corruption campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He stated that the infringement on the NNPC trademark by the first defendant had resulted in dwindling sales at the NNPC retail outfit in Ondo state.

He also noted that the first defendant is imitating NNPC by using its colour combination of red, yellow, green, uniform, emblem and the acronym, NNPG, to deceive the public‎, describing the action as sabotage .

In its writ, the plaintiff is praying the court for a declaration‎ that the first defendant ‘NNPG’ mark is phonetically and alphabetically confusingly identical/similar to NNPC’s trademark.

The plaintiff is therefore asking the court to make an order of perpetual injunction restraining NNPG from selling, offering any service, advertising for sale or promoting howsoever the name and consequently the acronym of NNPG in any of its service outlets, or any similar acronym, mark design and / or trade logo identical or similar to its own.

‎It also wants the court to direct CAC pursuant to Section 31(1) and (4) of the Companies and Allied Matters act, 1990 to remove the NNPG’s name from its record being similar with its registered trademark, NNPC.

NNPC further asks the court to direct the Registrar of Trademarks, Patent and Designs never to accept for registration the word NNPG or any word or colour combination so closely identical or similar to its own.

The plaintiff ‎further asks the court to stop NNPG from using similar/identical colors/combination‎ of colors to that of the plaintiff as its retail outlets.

It asks the court to restrain NNPG from infringing or assisting others to infringe on the plaintiff’s registered trademark, colours/combination of colours, totems, insignia and emblem.

The plaintiff is also asking the court to order NNPG to remove all sign posts, names/acronyms with letters NNPG and any such identical/similar design infringing on its trademark with immediate effect.

NNPC also prays the court for the sum N5 million being exemplary damages and N10 million as general damages for the infringement and passing off of its trademark and design.

In its statement of claim, the plaintiff avers that sometime in 2015, it discovered that 1st defendant sells and continues to sell petroleum products under the confusing brand design‎ of NNPG, at the very least, confusingly similar to that of the plaintiff’s registered trademark NNPC in Akure, Ondo state.

It further averred that the 1st defendant with the intention to deceive unsuspecting general public has also adopted and continually used for its commercial benefit, in its retail outlets/service stations that exact unique colour/combination of colours with very similar emblem of its own.

NNPC Retail‎ said that the acronym NNPG, coupled with the entire features of its colour combination is associated ‎in the mind of the public as the plaintiff’s service outlet NNPC.

Furthermore in its particulars to damage to ‎business and goodwill, the plaintiff states that it is widely known for selling at government regulated price and quality, while the first defendant has engaged in the habit of selling far above the government regulated price.

It also avers that the volume of its sales in Ondo state for petroleum products is declining and will continue to decline and the plaintiff company will be adversely affected by use and continous infringement of its trademark.

Further hearing in the case has been fixed for November 10 .