Chicken war rages on

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Businessman Takesure Mbano, at the centre of a chicken war with Innscor Africa, says the conglomerate wants to kill competition by taking him to court over violation of trademarks.

Innscor has approached the High Court arguing Mbano wants to open food outlets using trademarks similar to its subsidiary companies and to benefit from the good reputation established by Innscor.

Under its fast-foods subsidiary, Innscor runs the Chicken Inn, Creamy Inn and Pizza Inn brands.
Mbano has come up with his brands Chickenza Inn, Creamy Chikenza and Pizza Chickenza prompting Innscor to approach the courts.

In his opposing affidavit filed on Tuesday, Mbano accused Innscor of bringing the application before the courts to muzzle and stifle his business.

The applicant is an organisation that has enjoyed monopoly in the fast food business since 1990 and believes it is the only organisation that should trade in that industry on a large scale, Mbano deposed in the affidavit.

He argued there is no calculation to confuse the public at all and the applicant cannot claim goodwill on the words that were disclaimed in its mark as the word chicken and inn are goodwill marks on their own such that their registration was refused.

In any event, the applicant at some of its outlets is still using unmarked signs or logos. Such conduct is selfish and motivated by malice, he said.

In its founding affidavit, Innscor said Mbano Investments wants to unlawfully benefit from the good reputation built up by Innscor.

The respondents marks so nearly resemble applicants registered trademarks and are likely to deceive or cause confusion, Innscor said.

The conduct by the respondent is calculated to confuse the public into believing that respondents goods or services are or will be those of the applicant or connected in the course of trade with the applicant.

Before the filing of court papers, letters have been flying between Innscor and Mbano Investment lawyers over the matter.

In a letter dated November 1, 2011, Innscor lawyers Honey & Blanckenberg gave Mbano Investments up to November 15, 2011 to undertake never in future to many any use of our clients trademarks, or any other trademarks which are confusingly or deceptively similar to the said trademarks and the depictions of the trademark logos in whole or in part of your business signage, billboards, motor vehicles or any business stationery.

The undertaking was not done prompting Innscor to file a court application last month.