According to a media statement released by mobile device brand mi-Fone, the Federal High Court in Lagos has issued an interim injunction against Xiaomi – a mobile phone manufacturer whose Mi branded mobile devices are currently on sale across Nigeria.
According to the media statement, the Federal High Court has ruled in favour of African Mobile Devices brand ‘mi-Fone’ as the original holders of the mi trademark in Nigeria, which the company has held since 2008.
“Established in 2008, mi-Fone was, according to the company, the first African mobile device brand, and from day one the company had duly registered the mi trademarks in the relevant categories,” says Alpesh Patel, Founder of mi-Fone.
“We are an African brand and believe it is our duty to small business in Africa to stand up for our rights against the giants of this industry, no matter how daunting the process. If Xiaomi had done proper due diligence on Africa they would have noted that the mi brand already exists and belongs to mi-Fone,” comments Patel.
Lawyers acting for mi-Fone – L&A Associates – stated: “Based on the recent Court ruling, anyone selling Xiaomi Mi branded devices or accessories or any company selling similar sounding products within the Telecoms sector is required to remove such products from their shelves and to desist in further promotion of such products.”
“We are not averse to competition, however the use of the same brand name, which was introduced to the African market eight years ago, places our business at risk . We simply cannot afford to create confusion within the consumer mindset by having two mi branded and yet separate mobile device offerings,“ says Patel.
He continues, “We recently launched a range of products under the sub mi Tribe brand with Konga, and Nigeria has and always will be a key market for mi-Fone. We may not be the biggest but we remain committed to delivering ‘aspiration within reach’ to the people of Nigeria.
We are a proudly African brand and believe that this injunction is a victory for small business and for African brands fighting to make their presence felt amongst the large non-African brands constantly entering the continent with far greater resources at their disposal.”