03 April, 2008

Kikoy battle continues

The Daily Nation reports that the attempt by a British Company to register the word KIKOY as trade mark in UK has failed.

This seems to mark the end of the affair which began in 2006 when Kikoy Company UK Limited applied to register the trade work. See an earlier post here.

From the Nation report it does appear that Kikoy Company failed to file a counter statement by the deadline of 7th March 2008, meaning the application for registration was deemed to have been withdrawn.

What is the implication of this outcome?

In my opinion it makes no difference whether KIKOY was registered as a trade mark or not and indeed there are other KIKOYs registered in UK (as pictured above). These registrations have not prevented other people from selling their kikoys in UK as the writer suggests.

To me the writer seems to have got it wrong on a number of issues. First he writes that the Government has not taken steps to protect the fabric. Is there justification for protection? The very essence of objecting to registration in UK is that KIKOY is a description word that should not be monopolized by any particular person, not even in Kenya.

Secondly, he reports that had the Kikoy Company managed to register the trade mark, it would have obtained a virtual monopoly over the use of the word and they would have stopped any other person from selling Kikoys in the UK and elsewhere.

I beg to differ with this observation, for the fact that you cannot have any trade mark rights over a descriptive word. In the first place, it would have been impossible for the Kikoy Company to enforce the trade mark. I believe there are many cases in UK that have resolved that for one to infringe a trade mark, the infringing mark must be used as trademark.

The question is whether any other person selling kikoys in UK would be using the word KIKOY as a trade mark. Kikoy is basically the name of the product and any other person selling the products in UK or Europe could actually argue that their use of the word KIKOY was not in trade mark sense, rather they were trading in goods called KIKOY. For example, assuming some one managed to register the word BREAD as a trade mark in Kenya with respect to bread, the registration would not stop other people from selling their bread in Kenya. To me the registration would be meaningless and the owner would be actually paying rent to the Trade Office registry for worthless protection.

About kikoy here and here.


  1. The Kikoyi co (with the text www.kikoyi.com) in the picture is actually the same company (Kikoyi Company)that tried to register 'kikoyi' in 2006. The pictured trademark was registered in the UK in 2003.

  2. Sorry...Anonymous here again ... I've just realized I mistakenly wrote Kikoyi instead of Kikoy please note the error, there is no 'i' after 'y' in any of the cases (with ref to earlier comment)!