The Cassation Bench of the Supreme Court has reversed a high court decision and is allowing international hotel chain InterContinental Hotels’ (IHG) lawsuit against local hotel Intercontinental Addis to go forward. If they are victorious it would force the local hotel to pay the international chain its net profit for the last ten years and change its name. The court ruled that IHG registered their trade mark properly.
Eyob Hagos, lawyer of IHG told Capital they will soon sue Intercontinental Addis at the High Court to force the hotel to stop using its current brand name. “We will continue the case, we have asked the Federal High court to force Intercontinental Addis to cease and desist the Intercontinental trademark and we will ask for the net profit it has derived from the brand name as stipulated by article 40 of the trademark regulation and protection proclamation: 505/2006.”
That law says a business can’t use a trademark or sign of a registered business in a way that misleads the public into thinking it is the same business. It was created in an attempt to stop companies from copying international chains as frequently occurs in the food and beverage and hospitality industry.
Three years ago, the High Court ruled in favor of the defendants, J.H. SIMEX the company which administers the Intercontinental Addis and owner, Simachew Kebede, who is in jail for another corruption charge. It rejected IHG’s argument that they could be represented as a business without a registration and license from the country’s authorized body, and closed the case.
Lawyers for Simachew Kebede, continued to argue before the Supreme Court that the InterContinental Hotels had no legal rights in Ethiopia because it was not registered as a licensed business in the country. The Intercontinental Hotel Group is registered and licensed in the US city of Atlanta. In Ethiopia, it has so far only secured an exclusive trade name certificate, and not a business registration and license – a pre-requisite for engaging in any trade activities.
Intercontinental Addis has 150 rooms. In the recent national hotel grading process it was awarded four stars.