24 March, 2009

Unsanitary patent war over sanitary bin

As reported by Afro-IP here the battle between Sanitam Services Ltd and Rentokil Initial Kenya Ltd over patent infringement rages on. This time round it was Rentokil (the plaintiff) instituting proceedings in the High Court to restrain Sanitam (the defendant) from threatening, intimidating, harassing, embarrassing and confusing Rentokil’s clients and customers over sanitary bin it provides to them.

Rentokil made the application for temporary injunction after Sanitam wrote letters to various companies warning them to stop using sanitary bins supplied by the plaintiff, which the defendant considered to be infringing its patent AP 773 granted by ARIPO.
In contention it was the defendant’s case that by using the bins supplied by the plaintiff, the said clients were infringing the Sanitam patent.

It is worth noting that this is the fourth time in the last 10 years the parties are in court over the issue of infringement of the same patent. The matter goes back to 1999 when Sanitam sought a temporary injunction against Rentokil, which was denied by the High Court. There after the matter went for full hearing and again Sanitam lost with the Court ruling that it had not proved a case of infringement. Sanitam appealed to the Court of Appeal and prevailed in obtaining in 2006 a permanent injunction to last for the “life of the patent”.

Last year alone Sanitam obtained injunctions against a number of companies, among them Nairobi Bins, reported here and Hygiene Bins.

In the current battle with Rentokil one wonders at the expense the parties have incurred in the last 10 year they have been at each others throat. Would it not perhaps make time and shilling wise sense for the parties to settle the matter out of court? Wouldn’t a licensing arrangement be a win-win situation? Or are we likely to continue witnessing some more epic battles in the trilogy. Now that we have seen the first 4 episodes, is there likelihood of episode V- the empire striking back.

For star wars episode I-VI here

09 March, 2009

Transport Ministry to vet patented speed governors

IP Kenya has spotted a rather curious notice by the Ministry of Transport, which states that the Ministry is in the process of vetting all speed governor fitters and is inviting the fitters to submit the following:

  1. Type and model of governor.

  2. Patent right/manufactures authorization letter to fit the speed governors.

  3. Kenya bureau of Standards certification.

  4. Sample of compliance certificate issued to customers.

IP Kenya wonders why the ministry requires the fitters to have patented gadgets. Though the notice does not say, what will happen to fitters who may have not bothered to patent or whose patent rights have expired?

A patent on how to bypass a speed governor here