NNPC retail sues NNPG, CAC over trademark infringement

The Nigerian National Petroleum
Corporation Retail Limited has dragged the
Natural Network Petroleum and Gas
Company Limited and two others to Justice
I.M. Sanni of a Federal High Court in Akure
over alleged infringement on its trademark.
The NNPC had in a suit filed by its counsel,
Muyiwa Atoyebi, with case no: FHC/AK/99/15
joined Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)
and Registrar of Trade Marks, Patent and
Designs as 2nd and 3rd defendants
respectively.
The plaintiff had also in a separate suit sued
Flory Mummy Nigeria Limited over the same
subject matter.
When the matter came up on Friday?, the
court granted an order that CAC and the
Registrar of Trade Marks be served with the
writ in their corporate office in Abuja.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja over the
weekend, the Managing Director of NNPC
Retail Limited, Mr. Fagbola Ladipo stated
that the suit was a follow up to the anti-
corruption campaign of President
Muhammadu Buhari in his bid to completely
root out corruption in the country.
Asides that, Mr Ladipo stated that the
infringement on the NNPC trademark by the
first defendant had began to cause a
dwindling in the sales of NNPC in Ondo state.
He also noted that the first defendant is
imitating NNPC by using its color
combination of red, yellow, green, uniform,
emblem and the acronym NNPC to deceive
the public? adding that such had such is a
sabotage of government effort to provide
petroleum products to the common man.
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 however prays 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 wants the court to direct the
Registrar of Trademarks, Patent and Designs
never to accept for registration the word
NNPG or any word or color combination so
closely identical or similar to its own.
The plaintiff ?further wants to the court to
stop NNPG from using similar/identical
colors/combination? of colors to that of the
plaintiff as its retail outlets.
In addition, it wants the court to restrain
NNPG from infringing or assisting others to
infringe on the plaintiff’s registered
trademark, colors/combination of colors,
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 avered that the 1st defendant with
the intention to decieve unsuspecting
general public has also adopted and
continually used for its commercial benefit,
in its retain outlets/service stations that
exact unique color/combination of colors
with very similar enblem of its own.
In its particulars of misrepresentation, the
plaintiff avers 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.
The court had however fixed November
10 for hearing.

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