German clothing and footwear firm Puma AG Rudolf Dassler Sport (Puma) is entangled in a dispute with Kenyan manufacturer, Kenafric Industries, over alleged trademark infringement.
Puma through its representative, Paul Ramara, lodged complaints at the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) against Kenafrica for its Fuma branded shoes – which Puma holds are manufactured to confuse consumers of its global brand.
A visit to the Kenafric factory in Baba Dogo by ACA inspectors and Ramara seeking to search the factory, saw the inspectors seize several shoes and exercise books the name Fuma and Kenafric’s director, Mikul Shah, being arrested when he tried to stop them from searching the premises without a warrant.
The trademark row has seen Shah charged with the offence of obstruction at a chief magistrate’s court and released on bond.
Kenafric has on the other hand sued the ACA seeking release of their merchandise seived during the search of their factory.
The Kenyan firm has enjoined Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko and the chief magistrate’s court as respondents. Puma has been enjoined as an interested party through its agent — Paulus Ramara.
But Kenafric now says its Fuma brand is registered with the Kenya Industrial Properties Institute, and that the ACA wrongly seized its products.
The firm adds that its Fuma trade name has never been challenged by anyone. The firm says the rubber shoes target the low-end market.
“We have never been served with a notice of pending or intended proceedings before the registrar of trademarks, the Industrial Property Tribunal, the Copyright Board or any other institution challenging our trade name Fuma.”
“The rubber shoes manufactured in the trade name Fuma are uniquely designed in our model. The shoes are not traded by any other entity as they are uniquely designed to reach the very poor customers in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan and Ethiopia,” says executive director Mikul Shah.
But Puma in its response says it carried out an inquiry on the Kenyan market in June last year that revealed Kenafric as one of the infringers of its global trademark.
The German firm insists that Kenafric’s Fuma is intended to look like its global brand, as it also bears a leaping puma.
“During the search and seizure operations, the ACA seized huge quantities of shoes bearing the Fuma and leaping puma device trademarks manufactured by Kenafric as well as invoices confirming Kenafric to be the manufacturer of the offending shoes.
This is however not the first time Kenafric is underfire for brand infringement, having been entangled in another case with Time Warner Inc. over the use of the Ben 10 cartoon on their bubble gum.
Kenafric is best known for their products ranging from curry powder, bubble gum, exercise books to gumboots and plastic sandals.