High Court stubs out cigarette war
Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
Businessman Mr Simon George Rudland and his company Livera Trading (Pvt) Limited have been barred from packaging and selling cigarettes bearing the brand name “RG” on the Zimbabwean market.
Cigarettes bearing the name “RG” had flooded the market thereby prejudicing the owners of the renowned “Remington Gold” brand that is also shortened as “RG” on the tobacco market.
Savanna Tobacco is the licensed manufacturer and distributor of Remington Gold cigarettes in Zimbabwe.
High Court judge Justice November Mtshiya granted the interdict after a successful application by Tonbridge Assets Limited and Cut Rag Processors, who are the legitimate owners of the trademark.
Mr Addington Chinake represented Tonbridge and Cut Rag while Advocate Thabani Mpofu appeared for Livera Trading, Mr Rudland and Mrs Sarah Rudland.
Justice Mtshiya ordered the withdrawal of all such products from the market.
“First, second and third respondents and any person acting through them be and are hereby interdicted, with immediate effect from trading in or otherwise marketing, distributing or selling any cigarettes bearing the packaging likely to deceive or cause confusion on or in relation to any of the goods for which the applicants mark No. 1710/2000 in class 34 are registered without the leave of this Honourable Court.
“First, second and third respondents and any person acting through them are hereby directed to immediately recall all goods bearing the packaging RG, identical thereto or resembling the applicants’ registered mark No. 1710/2000 in class 34 from any of the outlets or its sales distribution agents to whom it may have sold or delivered such products to,” Justice Mtshiya ruled.
The judge also interdicted the respondents from launching the RG brand in Zimbabwe pending finalization of the dispute.
Livera should also remove its bill- boards, posters and other signs that have the RG logo.
On December 12 2015, Tonbridge bought the Remington Gold brand Cut Rag for $2 million.
Tonbridge paid the price in full, a development that gave it full rights to the brand.
Cut Rag joined the court proceedings confirming Tonbridge as the legitimate brand owner.
Mr Rudland contends that his company’s use of the letters RG was in order because they were his initials.
The judge did not buy his argument saying the same brand had long been built by another cigarettes firm on the same market.
“In any case, the second respondent (Mr Rudland) is officially known as Simon George Wilburn Rudland, not only George Rudland.
“He confirms that in the opposing affidavit he deposed to. I do not think the dispute would have arisen if, in using his name as he pleases, he had chosen his unregistered trademark as ‘SGWR’.
“As a participator in the tobacco industry, a proven fact, the second respondent must have been aware of the existence of the applicant’s product on the market and how it is packaged. That being the case, I do not want to believe that there was bona fide use of his name,” ruled Justice Mtshiya.
Justice Mtshiya was convinced that the application had merit before granting the order sought.