High Court bars Milestone Games Limited from using “Sportpesa” trademark

High Court bars Milestone Games Limited from using "Sportpesa" trademark

The High Court has issued temporary orders barring Milestone Games Limited from using the “Sportpesa” trademark pending the hearing and determination of a petition before it challenging the alleged fraudulent allocation of the trademark to the firm.

Judge Dorah Chepkwony directed that Milestone Games Limited and Sportpesa Global Holdings Limited be restrained from using the trademark until the matter before the court is determined.

“That a temporary injunction be and is hereby issued restraining the 4th and 5th Defendants whether by themselves, their officers, agents, servants, proxies and/or any other person acting under direction, control or authority from using the trademark number 74874 under Class 41 known as “Sportpesa” pending the hearing and determination of this application,” she directed.

This follows the filing of a suit filed by Asenath Wachera Maina – a shareholder of Pevans East Africa Limited – which has accused former Sportpesa CEO, Ronald Karauri, and former Sportpesa company secretary, Robert Macharia, of “irregularly, fraudulently and unlawfully” assigning the trademark to both Milestone Games Limited and SportPesa Global Holdings Limited.

Ronald is vying for the Kasarani MP’s seat as an independent candidate in the August 2022 general elections.

Maina has accused the duo of assigning the SportPesa trademark to the two firms “without the approval of shareholders of PEVANS contrary to the express provisions of section 158 of the Companies Act No. 17 of 2015.”

In a witness statement, she stated that on June 2, 2020, Ronald Karauri executed a deed of assignment which transferred the Sportpesa trademark from Pevans Limited to Sportpesa Global Holdings Limited (SGHL)  at a fee of Ksh.14.4 million (GBP 100,000) which was offset by amounts Pevans purportedly owed SGHL.

She states that, thereafter, Robert Macharia irregularly appointed himself the agent for SGHL and applied for registration of the Sportpesa trademark, after which she states that both Ronald and Robert signed forms requesting the registration of the Sportpesa trademark to SGHL which were lodged with the registrar of trademarks on the September 14, 2020.

She states that the registrar then issued a certificate of registration of assignment of the Sportpesa trademark to SGHL on the  following day (September 15, 2020), adding that “curiously, the effective date of registration was retrogressively registered to be the June 22, 2020.”

She adds that on the October 26, 2020, SGHL issued a notice indicating that Milestone Games Limited had been granted a five-year non-exclusive licence over the Sportpesa trademark.

She wants the court to expunge the assignment of the Sportpesa trademark to SGHL stating that the assignment was done fraudulently.

In October 2020, the Betting Control and Licencing Board (BCLB) had written to Milestone Games Limited prohibiting the firm from using the trade name “Sportpesa” arguing that the name belonged to Pevans East Africa Limited, and that continued use of the name would create confusion to the general public as the name the Board had approved was different from the name the firm wished to adopt.

In December 2020, the Board cancelled the firm’s operating licence for having altered its shareholding structure after being granted the licence in a bid to stop the Board from conducting due diligence on the shareholding of the firm.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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