HARARE – Zimbabwe food processing giant Chicken Inn has lost its trademark infringement suit filed against local competitor Chicken Slice.
In its High Court application, parent company Innscor Africa Limited had accused Slice Distributors of using the word “luv” in the latter’s Slice and Burger trademark which reads “l luv it”.
Chicken Inn said it came up with the word “luv” when it made its “Luv dat chicken” trademark in 1987.
In addition, Chicken Inn said Chicken Slice’s colour scheme resembled its own.
It submitted that the resemblance in the trademarks and colours caused confusion among consumers.
In her ruling, Justice Sylvia-Chirawu Mugomba said Chicken Inn had no exclusive right to the word “luv”, adding that consumers would not be confused by the two products anyway.
“It is clear that the word ‘luv’ appears on the 1st defendant’s ‘burger’ mark and not on the Chicken Slice mark.
“Taking into account the law as enunciated above, it is my considered view that apart from the word ‘luv’, the marks used are not similar.
“In my view, a notional customer who encounters the products of the plaintiff and the 1st defendant is not likely to be confused by the differences between them.”
Justice Mangoma said Chicken Inn failed to prove the trademark infringement accusations adding that evidence brought forward by the company was weak.
“As already indicated, this is a matter of fact. The proof, being a prerequisite for passing off, the plaintiff has failed to prove that the 1st defendant passed off any of its products as those of the plaintiff.
“Accordingly, the claim for passing off by the plaintiff against the 1st defendant fails. It is at trite that costs are at the discretion of the court. I cannot see why the 1st defendant should not be awarded costs.”
It is not the first time Chicken Inn has lost a trademark infringement row with a competitor.
In 2012, Innscor also sued Takesure Mbano for trademark infringement citing his plan to launch Chickenza Inn, Creamy Chickenza and Pizza Chickenza resembled its own.
Chicken Inn has over 200 outlets in the country and throughout Africa.