Rocket Internet may be in for a long and difficult legal battle following its alleged copyright infringement of the Kasuwa brand name, a source has revealed to Techloy.
The Germany-based start-up incubator which is one of Europe’s most powerful internet businesses launched Kasuwa.com and Sabunta.com — two of the largest e-commerce sites in Nigeria (now rebranded as Jumia) — in May and June 2012 respectively with huge potential to compete in the West African e-commerce market.
Since then, both properties have been disrupting the e-commerce market, with Kasuwa gradually becoming a household name, until the company suddenly announced last week that it was re-branding to Jumia, cooperating with its operations in Egypt, Morocco and other locations across the continent.
According to the company, the name change was to reposition itself to be the largest online retailer in Africa and to become better equipped to fulfilling the growing demand for online shopping in Nigeria.
But it appears that the real reason behind the name change may be due to a copyright infringement threat from the original owner of the ‘Kasuwa’ and ‘Kasuwa.com’ trademark.
Apparently, the brand name, ‘Kasuwa’ and the domain name, ‘Kasuwa.com’ are already registered trademarks belonging to another business registered as ‘Kasuwa Market Place Ventures’ with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Nigeria since August 2010, according to documents made available to TechLoy.
And it turns out that the trademark owner has reportedly threatened to sue Rocket Internet for copyright infringement of its brand name and trademarks as well as the misrepresentation on its website, ad campaigns and across the web.
This could be a long legal tussle and may decide the fate of Rocket Internet’s brands in emerging markets including Nigeria, amidst its withdrawal from Turkey and reports that its China operations are about to shut down.
We’ve reached out to Rocket Internet for their comment.