Uganda Batteries Limited (UBL) has cautioned its customers to be vigilant and not to be duped into buying batteries manufactured by Nile Batteries Limited (NBL) whose branding is identical to that of UBL.
The warning was made Wednesday by Moses Zizinga, the Marketing Director of UBL during a news conference in Kampala.
He said that for the last seven months, Nile Batteries Ltd have been producing batteries carrying a trademark that is strikingly identical to that of UBL. Although the said batteries are labeled “NBL”, Zizinga claims the letter ‘B’ is designed with a symbol of a spark, similar to that of the ‘B’ in UBL. The colors of the letters as well as the rectangular line that surrounds the letters is also similar.
According to Martin Mulinde, the Head of Legal at UBL, this is an infringement on the copyrights of UBL since the ‘B’, with a spark in it and the lay out of the entire logo, is registered as UBL’s trademark.
“We have registered this mark and it belongs to us the way it looks. We don’t own the ‘U’ and the ‘B’ and the ‘L’, but the way it is presented matters,” he said.
“The other product (by NBL) also has blue, yellow and white. You might say color doesn’t matter, but if you find a product and the only difference is instead of yellow, the plugs are blue, with small alterations, the issue becomes perception [among buyers], ” Mulinde told reporters .
He said both parties have engaged in mediation to resolve the matter but that the issue is currently before court.
“The court process requires mediation between the parties. Before you go to court, they will call you together to sit down and agree. We have been to that side with them, and whatever results we got, means we are still proceeding with the process, ” he said.
The Marketing Director, Zizinga, said: “There is a battery on the market that looks like the UBL battery. We don’t want to say it is fake but what we are saying is that the customer should buy while knowing this”.
This replication has had a negative commercial impact on UBL and it (UBL) has issued several public notices to mitigate the risks, he said.
“We have sent communication, we have run Ads in the press explaining this matter, bringing it to the attention of consumers,” Zizinga said.
“Our message to them [customers] is to look out for our brand. Our brand is not NBL, it is UBL. We have never changed our brand”.
He explained that the disguised branding on the Nile Batteries’ product has created confusion among the consumers and cost NBL some of their would-be customers who unknowingly purchase NBL batteries.
“There is confusion in the market when someone goes to buy a product and it is perceived as though it is a UBL product. Of course it has an impact”.
“Our customers are asking us whether we have introduced another brand. At the point of sale, at times the communication given to them is that this is a new product from UBL which is creating confusion”.
He added: “It affects us because people will take the money to the other manufacturer yet they are buying duplicated stuff”.
On May 3, 2019, the Commercial Court issued a temporary injunction “restraining Nile Batteries Limited from dealing with batteries marked “NBL” and the Nile Battery warranty cards in any way including; cards, products and materials until the disposal of the main suit”.
The suit was filed by Uganda Batteries Limited and the matter is before Lady Justice Anna B. Mugyenyi.