Century City no trademark
Court rules that owners do not have exclusive rights to name
THE CENTURY City Property Owners Association has lost the exclusive rights to the name “Century City”, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein has ruled.
The association, which describes itself on its website as a “mini-municipality”, has been sending letters to a number of small businesses operating from Century City, ordering them to remove “Century City” from their names. One of them, Century City Apartment Property Services CC, a business which leases out luxury holiday apartments in Century City, decided to take them on – and won.
Attorney Suzaan Laing of Adams and Adams, for Century City Apartments, said that in most cases the businesses had complied when they were “bullied” by the association.
Laing said that when her client received a letter of demand, they decided to defend it.
The company, run by Patrick and Zeena Murphy, was taken to court a year ago by the association on the basis of trademark infringement. Their main defence against the claim was that Cen- tury City had become a place name that was reasonably required for use in trade to indicate the origin of business services, and could not as such be a trademark subject to the exclusive rights of a single entity.
“We first lost the case in the Cape High Court after Judge Dennis Davis ruled against us, but he gave us leave to appeal,” Laing said.
The Supreme Court ruled that the trademark, “Century City”, had become a place name and was ordered to be removed from the trademarks register. Laing said it was a section 21 company and that all property owners in the complex automatically become members of the Century City Property Owners Association.
The association was ordered by the court to pay the costs.