Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Retail Limited has sued Natural Network Petroleum and Gas Company Limited (NNPG) and two others over infringement on its trademark.
NNPC had, in a suit with number FHC/AK/99/15 filed through its counsel, Muyiwa Atoyebi, joined the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and Registrar of Trade Marks, Patent and Designs as second and third defendants respectively.
When the matter came up, on Friday, before Justice I.M Sanni of the Federal High Court sitting in Akure, Ondo State, the court granted an order that CAC and the Registrar of Trade Marks be served with the writ in their corporate office in Abuja.
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 colour combination so closely identical or similar to its own.
The plaintiff further wants to the court to stop NNPG from using similar/identical colours/combination of colours 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, 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 some time in 2015, it discovered that first 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 first defendant with the intention to decieve 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 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.
The court has, however, fixed November 10 for hearing.