MIND THE GAP
THE INTRODUCTION OF GAP to the South African market has hit a major snag as a protracted and unresolved battle about trademarks is being waged in courtrooms.
It turns out that a Durban-based clothing manufacturer, Kingsgate Clothing, had over the years registered a variety of trademarks relating to the word Gap.
In 1997, Gap Inc took Kingsgate to court in a bid to get the trademarks expunged and obtain an interdict to prevent Kingsgate from using the trademarks. The matter eventually landed up in the Supreme Court of Appeal; while the trademarks were expunged, Gap failed to obtain the interdict. As a result, Kingsgate claims that while it no longer has statutory rights to the trademarks, it does have common-law rights.
Both Gap Inc and Kingsgate have applied for fresh registrations of the trademarks. Zahir Moosa, the in-house attorney at Kingsgate, says the company has made an application for an interdict preventing Gap Inc from registering the trademarks locally. The matter will be heard in the Transvaal Provincial Division towards the end of March, and both parties are confident they will win the case.