A Federal High Court in Lagos has fined Facebook Inc and Facebook Ireland Ltd N10 million for unlawfully interfering with the use of a Nigerian firm’s trademark.
Justice Ayokunle Faji ordered Facebook to pay the sum to Double Paws Enterprise as damages.
The judge upheld Double Paws’ claim that Facebook interfered with the Nigerian firm’s ‘Pawsbook’ trademark.
The judge, who delivered the judgment last Friday, also granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining Facebook from interfering with the plaintiff’s statutory rights under the Trademark Act.
Double Paws filed the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1164/2017, through its counsel Gideon Okebu, sometime in July, 2017.
It claimed that it opened a Facebook account for its business sometime in April 2012 and had been using same for publicity, marketing and reaching out to his clients all around the world.
It said it had an unblemished relationship with the defendants until sometime in 2014 when it applied for the registration of its Pawsbook trademark, which the defendants felt was an infringement of their ‘Facebook’ trademark.
The Nigerian firm said Facebook through its solicitors wrote it several times, informing it that they would block its business accounts and all integration offered to it if it didn’t stop using or change its trademark name.
Knowing that the removal and/or blockage of the Plaintiff’s Facebook integration would affect the plaintiff’s business, the defendant blocked the plaintiff’s business accounts on the Facebook platform until he agreed to change the name of his registered trademark or stopped using it entirely.
Facebook’s defence was argued by duo of White and Case, an international law firm and Jackson Etti & Edu, a leading intellectual property law firm in Nigeria.
The defendants told the judge that the plaintiff’s account was blocked as a result of several contractual breaches, which contravened the Statement of Rights and Responsibility (SRR) entered by the parties at the time of opening the Facebook Accounts.
The defendants further alleged that the court had no Jurisdiction by virtue of a Jurisdiction clause in the SRR, which stipulated that the venue of resolving disputes would be the district Court of California.
The defendants also argued that the Trademark certificate given to the defendant was invalid.