Attempts by two publishers David Masunda and David Ndoro to wrest the NewsDay trade name from publishers Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), have hit a snag after it emerged that the pair wanted to be paid $150 000 for use of the title of a newspaper that went under 15 years ago.
Masunda and Ndoro, who had earlier threatened legal action against AMH for the use of the name NewsDay, changed course and tried to sell the trademark to the publishing company.
Lawyers representing AMH say the continued threats by Masunda and Ndoro were tantamount to “extortion and fraud”.
The lawyers, Atherstone & Cook, wrote to the reporters’ lawyers Donsa-Nkomo & Mutangi on Monday last week clearly explaining the position regarding the registration of NewsDay.
In response to a letter by Donsa-Nkomo and Mutangi, the AMH lawyers said NewsDay was now a registered trademark under the Trademark Act and the newspaper was issued with a certificate of registration.
The lawyers attacked Ndoro for trying to sell something he did not own.
“It is obvious to us that your client (Ndoro) is simply trying to make a fast buck by bringing a
false claim based on false allegations,” AMH lawyers said. “This is patently apparent by your client’s proposal to sell the name NewsDay for $150 000. If your client really had any rights to the name, why would your client want to sell it?” AMH lawyers queried.
“Your client does not own the name and, therefore, has no right whatsoever to sell it. In fact, this claim appears to be totally fraudulent more particularly because of the allegations made.
“Your client is attempting to sell to our client what (he) does not own, whilst defaming our client. To be frank, our client considers this as an attempt to extort money.”
As regards the question of registration, AMH lawyers said the name was legally registered and the holding company had legal rights to sue anyone attempting to use it.
“The name has been registered by the Zimbabwe Media Commission as the title of our client’s newspaper and our client is entitled to publish in this name, and is actually publishing in this name,” Atherstone & Cook said.
However, Ndoro claims he has exclusive rights to the use of the name NewsDay that he never registered while publishing his now defunct weekly paper in 1995.
Ndoro’s lawyers in correspondence with AMH confirmed that before 2002, there was no legal framework for registration of newspapers and, as such, no one could claim the right to a name which was not legally registered.
“With regard to registration of titles in 1995, you appreciate that prior to the advent of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act in 2002, there was no legal framework for the registration of newspapers,” Ndoro said.
Ndoro, through his lawyers, further claimed that the environment was now conducive to resume publishing and that their client was seeking investors to resuscitate the publication of the newspaper.
But AMH say Ndoro wants to take advantage of having used the name NewsDay before but omitted to mention that he never registered it and has no capacity to publish a newspaper.
“Your client does not have the resources to publish a newspaper, (and) incidentally, we would have thought that 1995 was a more conducive environment than today,” AMH countered.