Court fines Facebook N10m for alleged unlawful trademark interference
A federal High Court, Lagos has ordered Facebook Incorporated and Facebook Ireland Limited to pay N10 million to a Nigerian firm, Double Paws Enterprise, as damages for unlawfully interfering with the use of the firm’s trademark.
Justice Ayokunle Faji, while delivering the judgment at the weekend, also ordered a perpetual injunction restraining the social media firm from interfering with the plaintiff’s statutory rights under the Trademark Act.
The Nigerian company had sometimes in July, 2017 instituted the case marked FHC/L/CS/1164/2017 against the defendants through its counsel, Gideon Okebu of GM George-Taylor & Co.
In the suit, the plaintiff had prayed the court to determine the following: “Whether having regard to the unchallenged registration of Pawsbook. Com & Device as a class 41 trademark, under Trademark Act Cap T13 LFN, it has right to use the trademark in doing business.
“Whether the defendants being international companies that are proprietors of a trademark, Facebook, registered under the laws of Nigeria, under Trademark Act Cap T13 LFN can seek to render nugatory and abrogate another registered trademark, registered under Nigerian law, through self help and without recourse and in complete disdain for the provisions of Section 6 and 36 (1) CFRN 1999 (as amended) and Section 20, 21, 39, and 54 of the Trademark Act.
“Whether Facebook is lawfully entitled to harass, intimidate or coerce the plaintiff and his business name, to abandon his registered trademark, having regard to the provisions of Section 49 of the Trademark Act among others.” The plaintiff had demanded for $10 million as general damages and another $1 million for exemplary damages.
On the other hand, Facebook was defended by the duo of White and Case, an international law firm, and Jackson Etti & Edu, a leading intellectual property law firm in Nigeria.
Defending the suit, the defendants alleged that the plaintiff’s account was blocked as a result of several contractual breaches, which allegedly contravened the Statement of Rights and Responsibility (SRR) entered by the parties at the time of opening the Facebook accounts.
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