Trade marks and politics
In the most recent example, the issue was whether a political party that had broken away from the ruling African National Congress (“ANC”) – the African Democratic Change – had infringed the rights of the ruling party. As is commonly known, the logo of the ANC features the colours black, green and gold, as well as an image of a hand grasping a spear. The logo of the African Democratic Change also features the colours black, green and gold, as well as an image of a hand grasping a torch.
It’s perhaps no surprise that the ANC raised an objection, especially if one considers that logos play a prominent role in countries where visual imagery is a big factor. It’s also quite clear that the abbreviation of African Democratic Change (“ADC”) is not too dissimilar from ANC. On the flip side, it is a fact that the colours black, green and gold are quite popular in South African politics. We’ll have to wait and see where this matter goes.
For starters, names and images can be registered as trade marks. The unauthorised use of a registered trade mark (or something similar) can be an infringement that can be punished by way of an interdict (injunction), legal costs and damages. They should also be aware that it’s very easy to establish whether there are any relevant trade mark registrations by way of a trade mark register search.
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