Storm in exporter’s teacup

Friday, 23 September 2011 03:27 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By T. Farook Thajudeen

A tea exporter who allegedly pirated the getup and the Bar Code of another tea dealer was restrained from trading or exporting tea or any other product under similar getup or Bar Code until 4 October by the Commercial High Court of Colombo.

The complainants, Horanagamage Don Tenyson George, Ranasinghe Arachchige Sivanthi Kumari and Jayaprakash Fernando of Kaushalya Tea Export Company of No. 36/B,Wanawasala Road, Kelaniya, sued Vintage Teas (Ceylon) Pvt. Ltd. of No142/2 Mullariya North Mulleriyawa allegedly for unlawful use of the getup ‘Mouslum Tea – Black Tea’ of the complaint’s company by the defendant.

Counsel M.U.M. Ali Sabry appearing with Erusha Kalidasa instructed by Sanath Wijewardena for the petitioner submitted that the Petitioner Company was a tea exporter and the lawful owner of the getup ‘Mouslum Tea’ and the Bar Code No 97088 00209.

The petitioner company is the owner of the trade names Abu Hameed, El Rebia, Abu Emir, Mouslum Tea, Gold Asya, Murad, Mercelle and Fern Tea to several countries including Iraq, Turkey, Dubai, Russia Azerbaijani and Iran.

The counsel said that the petitioners had entered into an agreement with GS-1Sri Lanka Establishment to use Bar Code No. 97088 00209 on the tea bags of the petitioner company.

Further Counsel Sabry said that the trade name ‘Mouslum Tea’ belonged to the Pollen Company of Turkey and the petitioner was the lawfully registered agent in Sri Lanka for Mouslum Tea under the Intellectual Property Act.

He said the Tea Board had also authorised the petitioners to use the Lion emblem on the tea bags exporting by the petitioner company under the name ‘Mouslum Tea’ on a specially designed carton, which logo is registered under the Intellectual Property Act.

The counsel claimed that as the things are such on 13 September, the printing press named Intermark delivered a stock of ‘Mouslum Tea – Black Tea’ cartons to their head office.

The petitioner complaints that he had never place an order with Intermark Printers to print the cartons. On perusing the cartons, the petitioners had come to know that the defendant had made use of the getup and Bar Code, telephone numbers, etc. of the petitioner to export tea, thus damaging the good will of the plaintiff company.

The Plaintiff sued the defendant company for Rs. 25 million as damages with an additional one million for the loss incurred by the plaintiff as a result of unfair competition by the defendant.

Commercial High Court Judge Mahinda Samayawardena restrained the defendant from using tea or any other product under the getup or Bar Code of the petitioners and issued notice on the defendants to appear in court on 4 October.