Finweek English Edition - - Business strategy -

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.

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