Court Resolves Domitilla Trademark Dispute
The Trademark Tribunal in Abuja has cancelled the registration of the ‘Domitilla’ trademark, ruling that Anne Njemanze acted in bad faith.
The title ‘Domitilla’ is a film produced in 1996 by Zeb Ejiro, and featured Njemanze as the lead character. The decision was delivered by Chief Registrar Shafiu Adamu Yauri, who stated that all documents issued to Njemanze were done in error.
“The Petitioner owns the statutorily protected copyright of the film scripts of Domitilla and Domitilla 2, which were handed to the applicant in the course of her engagement as an actress in 1996 and 1999 respectively.
“Since the respective release of the films in 1996 and 1999, the films have continuously been in the market, first in video Cassettes; later in Compact Discs and now majorly as internet downloads all under the proprietary name of the Petitioner.
“The applicant has no goodwill and reputation in the word, “Domitilla”, separate from her role in the films Domitilla and Domitilla 2, which are intellectual properties of the Petitioner.
The legal dispute arose between Njemanze and veteran filmmaker Zeb Ejiro over ownership of the brand Domitilla, which is the title of a film produced in 1996 and starred Njemanze as the lead character.
Njemanze had trademarked the name and device in September 2020, years after the release of the film and its sequel, but Ejiro’s team of lawyers challenged the registration, arguing that the brand had been in use since 1996 and fell under class 41 of the Register of Trademarks in Nigeria.
The court ruled that Ejiro owned the statutorily protected copyright of the film scripts of Domitilla and Domitilla 2 and that Njemanze had no goodwill and reputation in the word “Domitilla” separate from her role in the films. The reboot of the film is currently screening in cinemas nationwide.