Willis Raburu Warns Others Against ‘Bazu’ Use as Airtel Fined Ksh.6.5m for Trademark Infringement

March 12, 2024

Media personality Willis Raburu has welcomed a court ruling requiring Airtel Kenya to pay him Kes.6.5 million for unauthorized use of his trademark ‘Bazu.’

On June 12, 2022, the Director of Digital Services and Innovations at Cape Media filed a court case against the telco, asserting that he holds exclusive rights to use ‘Bazu’ in connection with goods or services classified under ‘advertising and telecommunications services’ as per the International Classification of Goods and Services.

Despite having registered the trademark on April 13, 2021, under No. 116744, Raburu submitted that Airtel used Bazu to advertise internet bundles.

Airtel Kenya defended itself by arguing that Raburu’s intention was merely quick enrichment, seeking a quiet settlement. They argued that the term ‘Bazu’ had been in use by other parties before the registration date, stating that in cases of continuous use by various third parties, exclusive rights cannot be granted.

Additionally, Airtel Kenya submitted that Raburu did not originally create the term, as it is a well-known slang in the local Sheng language.

Court Ruling

In a ruling, Chief Magistrate Rawlings Musiega, sitting at the Milimani Commercial Court, determined that Airtel Kenya had indeed used the ‘Bazu’ trademark to promote one of their internet bundle products.

As a result, Magistrate Musiega issued a restraining order, prohibiting Airtel from using the trademark in any material published on broadcast media or anything similar to the trademark.

Furthermore, he mandated Airtel to pay Kes.5 million in special damages and an additional Kes.1.5 million in general damages.

The court at the same time granted Airtel Kenya a 45-day stay of execution or the option to file an appeal within the same period.

Meanwhile, Willis Raburu released a statement in response to the ruling, warning others of similar consequences should they use ‘Bazu’ without his consent.

“I express my gratitude for the recent judgment delivered by Hon. Rawlings Museiga in the magistrates court, which holds Airtel Kenya accountable for infringing on my registered trademark ‘BAZU’. This ruling sets a crucial precedent for upholding intellectual property and copyright rights in the future,” Raburu said on Monday.

He added: “While we acknowledge Airtel Kenya as a respected brand and business, it is imperative for me to safeguard my own brand and name under ‘BAZU’ trademark. The process has been guided by my lawyer, Victor Orandi, from Matthew and Partners Advocates, for which I am thankful for their unwavering support and guidance throughout this journey.”

Raburu further expressed his gratitude to God for the ‘favorable’ court ruling, emphasizing that intellectual property must always be respected.

“Respect for intellectual property is paramount, and those using the name BAZU without authority will face similar consequences, as legal notices have already been served. I extend my gratitude to God for this favorable outcome. Success is reflected in actions, and I am grateful for the resolution of this matter.” Raburu concluded his statement.

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