Mi-Fone has issued legal letters to Chinese Smartphone giant Xiaomi and their African distributor, objecting to their upcoming plans to distribute smartphones across Africa.
According to Mi-Fone, the objection rests on the basis that the introduction of Xiaomi’s ‘Mi’ products on the continent is an infringement of trademark in a market where mi-Fone has a well-established presence via their Mi and Mi-Fone trade names.
Alpesh Patel, Founder and CEO of Mi-Fone, explains that: “It is great that companies want to come into Africa and realise the potential of African smartphone growth, but it is our duty as a relatively small indigenous 100% African owned company to stand up for our rights as the first original registered owners of the “Mi and Mi Fone” names in Africa. I would have hoped that big companies like this would have done their due diligence before announcing their proposed entry into Africa.
According to Patel, in order to protect itself against unfair competition, Mi-Fone wishes to protect the established “Mi’ and Mi Fone” brand names that exists across the African continent. “As the owners of the “mi” and “Mi-Fone” brand in Africa, we will follow the rule of law and strongly object to any channel in Africa that distributes similar named and related products not endorsed by us as the rightful owners,” said Patel.
“Our ultimate concern is with the use of the name ‘mi’ which immediately creates an association in the minds of consumers,” Patel stated. “While we welcome free and fair competition within the Mobile Device space in order to empower Africa as a whole, this is an infringement of registered trademarks so it is important we tackle this head-on.”
With Africa currently playing host to the fastest growing mobile market in the world, it is evident that the years of investment and innovation instilled by Africans, for Africa, through companies such as mi-Fone have gone a long way towards the empowerment and development of the continent.