Two weeks after the Commercial Court listened to final legal arguments into a trademark infringement lawsuit brought against H.K. Enterprise by BAF Trading Corporation, of which the company is claiming millions United States dollars in damages, the court is yet to announce a date for its ruling.The trademark suit also involved the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) and the Liberia Intellectual Property Office (LIPO), which BAF alleged facilitated H.K. Enterprise obtaining its trademark as sole distributor and importer of “Pop Drink” in Liberia.The ruling is still in possession of the three-judge panel court.However, during the trial, the court came down with a declaratory judgment against the Ministry and LIPO on grounds that they refused to testify on the matter, despite being named as defendants.Although the two public entities did not testify, the court subpoenaed some of their senior members, who testified on the matter.During their arguments, BAF’s lead lawyer Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe said that his client obtained the trademark in 2010 from LIPO, giving the Liberian company the right as sole distributor and importer of “Pop drink” in Liberia. Cllr. Gongloe argued that his client continually imported the product to the satisfaction of their customers until January 2014, but that with the support of some government officials, H.K. Enterprise managed to obtain the same trademark giving it the right to also import and distribute the drink in the country.According to him, his client registered their company in 2009, and at the same time, exerted tremendous effort to introduce and promote the product on the Liberian market by obtaining its trademark from LIPO in 2010.Gongloe further argued that on April 17, 2014, BAF wrote Commerce Minister, Axel A. Addy, about H.K. Enterprise’s infringement, and LIPO’s wrongful conduct.Interestingly, on October 31, 2014, Minister Addy banned the importation of the drink and instructed LIPO to restore BAF’s rights from January 1, 2015; which LIPO failed to do.Cllr. Gongloe argued that after two months of waiting for restoration of their rights, to no avail, BAF Trading filed for declaratory judgment before the honorable court on March 10, 2015. In a counter-argument, H.K. Enterprise’s legal team contended that an investigation conducted by LIPO showed that BAF’s right to the trademark expired in June 2013, which gave H.K. Enterprise the right to apply and obtain the trademark as the sole importer and distributor of “Pop Drink” in 2014.They contended that there was an agreement between PT Forisa, the factory that manufactures the product, and Franco Asian Enterprise Singapore, the distributor of its product, appointing H.K. Enterprise as the sole distributor of the drink in Liberia, which led LIPO to revoke BAF’s trademark certificate.They alleged that the company wrote LIPO and the Ministry about the termination of the contract held with BAF.The agreement clearly prohibits H.K. Enterprise from the registration of the trademark in the country, which they admitted to have done, according to Cllr. Gongloe.However, Cllr. Gongloe further argued that in 2010, BAF received an appointment letter, which he openly read in court.The communication said, “BAF Incorporation has been given the full right and authority by PT. Afrindo Business International to do whatever necessary within the boundary of the laws of the Republic of Liberia to promote and protect the product in the Liberian market, at his own risk and expenses.”According to Cllr. Gongloe, the trademark has a clear provision on grounds that a registered trademark can be invalidated. “The registrar shall invalidate the registration only if the person requesting the invalidation proves that any of the requirements of section 39(1) and 40(2) does not satisfy the 2003 Act of the Intellectual Property Laws.”He added that a revocation of trade mark is a court procedure, listed as Section 21(4), which he quoted as saying: “The final decision of the court shall be notified to the Director General who shall record it and publish a reference thereto as soon as possible.”He added that: “The use of a registered trademark, in relation to any goods or services for which it has been registered by any person other than the registered owner, shall require the agreement of the latter” as stated in Section 43 (1) of the Act of 2003.He said once this provision of the law is followed, there can be no confusion in the commerce.“That the only entity that can raise issue about registration of trademark for Pop Drink in Liberia is PT. Forisa, the manufacturer, it may sue BAF Trading, but even PT. Forisa knows that it will not succeed, because Forisa did not have any restriction on PT. Afrindo and by extension on BAF Trading as it has on Franco Asian Enterprise and by extension on H.K enterprise.“Therefore,” Cllr. Gongloe said, “It was how PT. Forisa asked LIPO to mediate between BAF and Franco Asian Enterprise Singapore and to find amicable way to transfer the Trademark to PT. Forisa.“This clear request cannot be the basis for suspension, invalidation and revocation of BAF Trading Trademark Certificate. LIPO must respect its own laws that created it.“The status of a trademark cannot be affected by the conduct of a manufacturer. If every time a manufacturer changes its distributor and a new trademark is issued, then LIPO will keep violating its own law and become a source of confusion as it has done in this case. The issuance of trade mark is intended to prevent confusion.”During the trial the court subpoenaed several individuals from both the Ministry of Commerce and LIPO to testify about a communication based on which LIPO claimed that it cancelled BAF’s trademark certificate and subsequently issued it to H.K. Enterprise.For Deputy Minister Steve Marvey, he explained that, “the document dated January 14, 2014 captioned ‘To whom it may concern,’ was not sent to me, but that the letter dated April 29, 2014 was addressed to me,” he said, adding “I do not fully comprehend the assumed reason behind Forisa’s letter of April 29, 2014, because I did not communicate with said company prior to receiving the communication.”Also, LIPO Acting Director General, Robert Y. Mezzeh, whose signature appeared on the two trademarks (BAF Trading 2010 and H.K enterprise 2014), did not appear for the trial though the court served him the subpoena.However, Prince Decker, the man who replaced Mezzeh, was allowed to testify on his behalf.In his testimony, Decker said, “The trade mark certificate that was cancelled for Pop Drink was issued at two separate intervals.”“At the time, I was not privileged to participate in the step and procedure for registration during the issuance of BAF Trading trademark certificate in 2010” he said, denying his participation.He explained that, “the cancelled certificate of H.K Enterprise was inadvertently done by LIPO, during which period I was the registrar supervising the registry that headed the registration procedure.”LIPO’s Head of Research, Moses Nyepan, explained the process and procedure to obtain a trademark registration, and ways by which a conflict can be avoided.According to Nyepan, as head of research, he did not know how H.K Enterprise registered the trademark certificate for Pop Drink.“But I know that the information on the trademark certificate of BAF is in the database at LIPO and it is valid for a period of ten (10) years,” Nyepan told the court.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has recorded its largest failure in the 2016 Senior High School category in four years. This year, 22,671 out of 46,927 students who registered for the exams, failed. According to WAEC 2016 results released, those failed constitute nearly half (48.46%) of the total number of students registered. Despite several efforts instituted by authorities at the Ministry of Education (MOE), including distribution of text books and additional deployment of teachers in some counties, WAEC still recorded its poorest results among senior high students since 2013. In 2013, WAEC recorded 7,884 failures (29.49%) out of 26,993 registered, while in 2014, WAEC recorded 13,651 failures (49.37%) out of 27,881 registered. The Minsitry of Education suspended the WAEC exams in 2015 as the nation struggled to recover from the Ebola epidemic and that interrupted the academic calendar since 2014. Discussing the results yesterday at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing on Capitol Hill, John Gayvolor, head of WAEC Monrovia’s National Office, said 16,072 (34.48%) students passed the examinations. He said results for an additional 7,870 students are being withheld for collusion because of irregularities, including suspected spying.In previous WAEC examinations, he said, students whose results were withheld simply did not pass the examination.According to Gayvolor, 21,961 females sat the tests and 7,200 passed, while 3,868 of their results were withheld. Out of 24,789 males who sat the tests, 8,872 made a successful pass, while 4,002 results were withheld for suspected collusion and other malpractices.He said a total of 30,824 students at the junior high level made a successful pass out of the 49,771 that sat for the exams, although 53,213 candidates registered for the junior high tests.“We have 16,809 or 54.53 percent males who made successful passes and 14,015 or 45.47 percent females made it as well. Only six results are being withheld for the junior high level across the country,” he said. Mr. Gayvolor attributed the mass failure to some of the misinformation propagated by media houses that students were writing the same tests cancelled in May this year.Mr. Gayvolor further praised his team at the WAEC for working tirelessly to ensure that the results are available in the first week of August, as promised.The complete table of the results, including passes, failures and those that were withheld.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Taking literacy to market women has been one of the successful innovations of Alfalit Liberia. Two projects proved the effectiveness of teaching market women right at their market tables how to read, write and apply numbers. The Sirleaf Market Women’s Literacy Project and the Omega Market Women’s Literacy Project are the two separate literacy programs in the market for three years. This innovation was first tested through concerted efforts from Development Education Network of Liberia (DEN-L and Alfalit Liberia, funded by Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund (SMWF). In 2009, five hundred (500) market women in six (6) counties benefited from the Sirleaf Market Women’s Literacy Project. It covered eleven (11) market sites; namely: Nancy B. Doe Market in Sinkor, ELWA Junction Market, Duala Market in Montserrado County, Grand Gedeh Central Market in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, Seclepea Market in Nimba County, Bopolu Market in Gbarpolu Conty, Totota Market in Bong and John’s Town Market in Lofa County.The uniqueness of the joint implementation efforts from Alfalit and Den-L is the fact that these two organizations come from two different teaching methods. Alfalit uses the Frank Labach Way of Reading, best described as a progressive learning approach that drills adults through pictures and sounds that they may already know. In summary, adult learns to see and recognize the picture of a house. The new thing to learn is how to spell a house. On the other hand, Den-L specializes in what is known as REFLECT METHOD which dwells on a common discussion point of interest to learners. As the discussion progresses, key words associated with the discussion would be a learning highlight for adult learners. Both participatory teaching methods stimulate adult learners; therefore they were both successfully used to facilitate learning activities among market women at the eleven (11) market sites. Another successful market women’s literacy project is the Omega Market Women’s Literacy Project solely implemented. The SEGAL Foundation funded project targeted congested Red Light Market in Paynesville, ready for relocation to the newly constructed Omega Market in the vicinity of the demolished US owned Omega communication towel. The project recruited more than one hundred fifty-five market women who needed to keep the value and commitment to their business, yet had time to acquire literacy skills to improve or safeguard their businesses. The project established three centers: Gogbarchop Market, Main Red Light Market and Cow Field Market for the purpose of keeping a smooth interaction between learners and facilitators. Again these projects are at standstill basically due to funding crisis. Nevertheless, they both have impacted the lives of these market women who are using numbers and simple words to keep records of their businesses and transact with banking institutions; something they could not have done by themselves without these literacy interventions. Thanks to Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her passion for market women’s empowerment initiative. The Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund, as a charity intervention for market women, had played significant role leading these market women to the light of literacy. This could only reinforce their vigor to the education of their children. The contributions of market women to the education of their children, some of whom have served Liberia with distinction, cannot be overlooked. Adding literacy skills to women in Liberia helps them not to only sponsor their children in school, but it also helps them to evaluate the performances of their children. Literacy skill is always advantageous to mothers who have a heart for the development of their children. To make Liberia a highly literate society in a decade, the efforts of government, religious institutions and the society in general must identify means of individual and collective contributions to the cause. The government needs to prioritize literacy programs at all levels of society. Literacy opportunity at the disposal of market women, concessions and government employees will place Liberia among serious nations that value literacy as empowerment endeavor to all citizens.Finally, reactivating market women’s literacy program and expanding literacy classes at the disposal of many Liberians are among heart-strain tasks of Alfalit to be embraced and supported by private and public sectors of Liberia. For market women’s education, Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund and SEGAL Foundation set the pace. We all can only join Alfalit to continue the initial efforts in moving forward. Market women’s literacy education is another milestone that Alfalit Liberia can proudly point to as part of its ten (10) years of literacy intervention across Liberia. Congratulations to Alfalit and all of its partners for empowering grassroots Liberians. Happy 10th Anniversary!Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Brac-Liberia, a Bangladeshi agro-based organization operating in Liberia, recently ended a one day inception workshop aimed at sensitizing Liberians on the need to address food and nutrition security challenges in the country.Currently, Brac has received a 1.5 million-euro project geared towards addressing food and nutrition security to help end hunger in Liberia. The project, which is expected to commence early next year, will be implemented in six counties, including Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Grand Bassa, Montserrado, Margibi and Bong Counties.To launch the two year project, Brac has embarked on a workshop that seeks to sensitize farmers and stakeholders in the country’s agriculture sector on food and nutrition security in the six selected counties.Speaking last Monday at the first workshop in Bentol, Montserrado County, Brac-Liberia Senior Manager Emmanur Shikder said the project will focus on supporting poor farmers who are facing difficulties.He said farmers will be empowered with basic agricultural tools to enhance crop and animal production in order to improve food and nutrition security.“Our project’s mission is to support the poor in food production and nutrition insecurity to react to crises and strengthen resilience in Liberia,’’ Mr. Shikder said. “This project will strive to improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture by developing resilient agriculture, resilient markets and resilient people who are able to generate diverse livelihoods that provide stable incomes and adequate food and nutrition in the face of recurrent stresses and shocks.”For his part, A. K. M. Rafiqul Islam, Brac-Liberia Agriculture Manager, said the project will target 7,501 farming households across the six counties. He said Brac-Liberia will also consult with 50 senior government officials and 90 market actors to form part of the project’s activities.“Before this project ends in 2018, 390 most vulnerable household groups will be engaged in cash for work, 1,625 poor households will receive training on poultry and livestock rearing, and the capacity of 5,200 smallholder farmers will be built on climate smart agriculture technologies,’’ Mr. Islam said.He further said 26 agricultural entrepreneurs will be developed, while 2,340 pregnant and lactating women from those households will be trained on improved nutrition.For his part, the Agriculture Coordinator at the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Edward S. Fatorma, said the rearing of goats, sheep, cows, pigs, among other domestic animals, is a key component that farmers need not neglect. He noted that the constant importation of livestock into the country is not a healthy practice for the farming sector.“Share your knowledge with someone and help each other as you try to produce more food and other agricultural products for either commercial or subsistence purpose,’’ he said, adding that Liberians need to be more innovative in the farming sector. Also speaking, Thompson N. W. Chea, the agriculture coordinator at the Bong County Superintendent’s office, said Brac’s initiatives boost Liberia’s stride to eliminate hunger through productive and sustainable agro-based activities.“The Superintendent’s office, in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, has already called on all districts in Bong to cultivate not less than 100 acres for each of their agricultural products,’’ Mr. Chea said.He commended Brac-Liberia for its contribution to the nation’s freedom from food poverty and the enhancement of a viable economic sector.The Bentol workshop brought together farmers, government officials and small business owners. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Newly appointed Minister of Youth and Sports Zoegar Wilson (L) and Deputy Minister for Sports G. Andy Quamie. Former Mighty Barrolle and national team goalkeeper Zoegar Wilson and G. Andy Quamie have been appointed Minister and Deputy Minister respectively at the Ministry of Youth and Sports.The two were appointed over the weekend by President George Weah.Wilson once served as Assistant Minister for Administration at the ministry during the administration of former President Charles Taylor.He had also served as Vice President for Technical Affairs for Mighty Barrolle Sports Association, President of the Trenton Chapter of Mighty Barrolle Sports Association in the United States, and currently serves as Vice President for International Affairs of Mighty Barrolle Sports Association.Wilson replaced former Minister Saah N’Tow. He will be assisted by newly appointed Deputy Minister of Sports Andy Quamie, who is replacing former Deputy Minister Henry Yonton.Quamie, among other positions, served as Match Commissioner and Inspector of the Confederation of African Football.He currently serves as an executive member of the Liberia Football Association. Since his appointment as match commissioner for CAF in 2012, he has commissioned several FIFA and CAF international matches.Others appointed at the Ministry of Youth and Sports included: Audrain R. Forbes-Smith, Deputy Minister for Administration; Famatta Brewer, Assistant Minister for Administration; and Millias Z. Sheriff, Assistant Minister for Technical and Vocational Education Training.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Liberian Senate on its last day sitting before the Easter Break, yesterday received a letter from Senate Pro Tempore Emeritus Arma Zolu Jallah seeking the Senate’s approval on an annual basis, US$50 million appropriation in the national budget over a period of fifteen (15) consecutive years for roads.According to the Gbarpolu County Senator, who now chairs the Senate Committee on Public Works, the purpose of the budget is for the pavement of highway systems, freeways, major and minor highways and primary streets, among others.Senator Jallah, who regularly assists his kinsmen in the operation of yellow machines on his county’s feeder roads, recalled that “This road finance and trust fund proposal was made during my early years as President Pro Tempore of the Senate, but was never considered by this honorable body.”Notwithstanding the facts that roads make a critical contribution to the economic development and growth of a nation and result in important social benefits, Senator Jallah noted that it has “made it a compelling need for me to resubmit this proposal. ”The approval of the proposal, Senator Jallah’s letter, dated March 20, 2018, concluded, will attract and precipitate the migration of people to new environments “and will certainly boost local economies and facilitate infrastructure development. ”A motion by Senator Conmany B. Wesseh was passed to send the letter to the committees on Public Works, and Ways, Means, Finance, and Budget.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Residents of Georgetown can now pay rates and taxes via the Mobile Money Guyana (MMG) app.This was made possible through a collaboration between the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) and GTT, and the initiative was officially launched on Tuesday.Information Technology (IT) Manager attached to M&CC, Adunni Christian said the action was taken to enable persons to pay monies owed to the M&CC through MMG. Christian noted that while the M&CC has begun with the payments of rates and taxes, in the near future the Council would move towards other types of payments that could be made via MMG.GTT MMG Specialist Kester Abrams“All customers need to know or understand is their account number which can be found on a receipt or the demand notice. That account number, when you make payments to Mobile Money from outside, it will allow us at M&CC to see where you are attaching these payments to,” he explained.According to Christian, one of the main reasons the MMG platform was chosen was the fact it was known to be a safe application for transacting business. He further explained that “there is no issue in terms of your security or other people accessing your account because as you know, the Mobile Money platform has been proven to be quite secure in the past.”Christian also pointed out that persons desirous of uplifting their payment receipt after completing their transaction can do so by visiting the M&CC.Specialist-in-Charge of MMG at GTT, Kester Abrams said the company was pleased to be able to further expand its services to the residents of Georgetown. He also disclosed that GTT was looking to develop its services to other municipalities across Guyana.M&CC IT Manager Adunni Christian“We have also reached out to the Ministry of Communities and we will be meeting with them in the near future to actually talk about some of the [Neighbourhood Democratic Councils] NDCs; [Regional Democratic Councils] RDCs and municipalities outside of Georgetown so that we can actually have all rates and taxes payment coming Through Mobile Money,” he stated.The services are currently available, and persons who wish to have more clarity on the new services are being encouraged to visit the M&CC office.
With two consecutive years of prison catastrophes under its belt, the Government has moved to approve the appointment of members of the Timehri Prison visiting committee – one of several committees the Administration was criticised for not having in place.The appointments, which are retroactive, take effect from April of last year until March 31, 2018. The order was ratified by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon and Cabinet Secretary Edward Persico, and gazetted.The Chairman of the committee will be local businessman Ayube Mohamed; Reverend Raphael Massiah, the head of the First Assembly of God Church;The remains of the Camp Street PrisonOdetta Fogeny, a youth activist; Attorney-at-Law Jaya Singh-Backreddy; security specialist Leslie Glasgow and the committee’s secretary, Linda Paul.In March of 2016, a fire had raged through the Camp Street Prison and claimed the lives of 17 prisoners. Afterwards, a Commission of Inquiry, which cost the treasury some $13 million, was ordered by President David Granger.According to the report compiled by the Commissioners, the combination of overcrowded, uncomfortable and unhygienic confinement were all ideal conditions for epidemics, for gangs to prosper and to propagate discontent.Moreover, the CoI found that reducing numbers in prisons to manageable levels was the single most important priority for establishing safe, humane and purposeful prisons. It was further noted that repeat offenders have increased by over 100 per cent, “indicating not only a waste of taxpayer dollars but also the need for a more comprehensive and structured partnership within the wider justice system”. But despite these recommendations, the Director of Prisons himself confirmed that at the time of the fire that gutted Camp Street Prison last year, over 1000 prisoners were being housed at the prison. Camp Street Prison was originally built to house nearly half that number.
The Office of Climate Change (OCC) continues to implement and execute projects articulated in the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), mainly since these are tied to the bilateral agreement between the Government of Guyana and the Kingdom of Norway.Head of the OCC, Janelle Christian, speaking recently on the advancement of several of these projects said: “the whole thing is what is good for Guyana, what is good for the country and how we manage our resources, how do we address the gaps in governance and other legislative and policy areas.”Head- Office of Climate Change, Janelle ChristianShe noted the Office is building on all the work conducted over the years under the LCDS while ensuring that development is approached across all sectors along a low emissions path, as stipulated in the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS).The OCC is ramping up all the work started under the LCDS with the focus on Guyana emerging into a truly ‘green state’.Christian informed that the Project Management Office, which leads the process with respect to identification and elaboration of proposals for submission to the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) Steering Committee, would have successfully, in 2017, received approval for the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Hinterland Connectivity Project.The Office has also advanced the process of the National Opt-in Mechanism, successfully completing consultancy in 2017, which has led to the development of a framework document.“We are looking to continue that initiative in terms of having more country-wide engagement with communities and also seek to do some piloting,” Christian said.Another priority of the LCDS which has progressed is the recently launched Sustainable Land Development Project which deals with land use planning and governance, Christian highlighted.The OCC with support from its partners has conducted work in the Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo Region (Region Nine) in the area of water resource management.A pilot project is being financed under the Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (JCCP).According to the OCC Head, “we are going to be undertaking the assessment, the Ground Water Hydrology Assessment to have a better understanding of water resources in that area and then come up with the best solution to address the scarcity that the communities experience there”.Information and data coming out of that pilot project will then inform a larger programme.Christian alluded to several other important projects coming out from the LCDS, which fall under the Natural Resources Ministry such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).Guyana’s application to become an EITI candidate was approved in October 2017 during the 38th Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Board Meeting held in Manila, Philippines.The LCDS is a national strategy launched in 2009, under the previous administration, which seeks to create a low deforestation, low carbon, climate resilient economy with the objective of transforming the economy while combating climate change, mainly through incentives to avoid deforestation.The policy document titled ‘Framework of the Guyana Green State Development Strategy and Financing Mechanisms’ was completed in April 2017 and is intended to provide guidance on the prioritised areas to be developed in the GSDS.The document represents a roadmap for Guyana’s development along a reduced emissions pathway and builds on the successes of the LCDS and several other national documents such as the Nationally Determined Contributions, Climate Resilience Strategy Action Plan (CRSAP), Draft National Energy Policy, and National Adaptation Strategy for the Agriculture Sector (2009 -2018).
Mahaicony murderThe wife and in-laws of 23-year-old Muneshwar Bisnauth of Airy Hall, Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara, remains in Police custody as charges are likely to be brought against the father-in-law as soon as today.On Sunday, Bisnauth, a father of one, was reportedly imbibing with his 16-year-old wife and her parents at Lot 20 Dundee, Mahaicony, when an argument ensued.Dead: Muneshwar BisnauthShortly after, the fisherman’s lifeless body was discovered lying in the yard, with a gaping wound to the head.Bisnauth’s father-in-law has confessed to murder. The man reportedly confessed to killing the fisherman during an interrogation by detectives on Monday evening. The suspect allegedly told Police that he dealt one blow to the man’s head with a piece of wood during an argument.He also confessed to instructing his relatives to “wash down” the blood before they called the dead man’s relatives. Initially, they told Police that the man had fallen and hit his head.Based on that information, the Police said the file has been forwarded for legal advice and charges are expected as soon as the post-mortem examination (PME) is performed. The PME is expected to be performed today.