Court Officials Raid Bet9ja Over ‘Name, Seal Infringement’
Sheriffs of the Federal High Court, Lagos on Thursday raided a Lagos office of online bookmaker Bet9ja and recovered a seal suspected of infringing the copyright of Lotto9ja Ltd, owned by rival bookmaker, Western Lotto Nigeria Ltd.
The raid followed an Anton Piller injunction granted by Justice Taiwo Taiwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja on August 8 in favour of Western Lotto.
An Anton Piller order authorises an applicant to search premises and seize evidence without prior warning.
The sheriffs and Western Lotto officials, protected by policemen, executed the order at a Bet9ja premises at 9, Funsho Williams Avenue, Surulere, Lagos.
Justice Taiwo granted the order in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/925/2019, following an ex parte application by Western Lotto through its counsel, Mr. John Baiyeshea, SAN, for Chief Oluwole Olanipekun, SAN.
The first and second applicants in the suit are: Western Lotto Nig. Ltd and Lotto9ja Ltd, while the first to third respondents are: Registrar of Trademarks, K.C. Gaming Networks Ltd (owners of Bet9ja) and K.C. Lottery Company Ltd.
The applicants told the judge that Western Lotto launched a new company in July called “Lotto9ja” after registering with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the office of Trademark at the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment.
It averred that in the course of preparing for the launch, it discovered that K.C. Gaming Networks Ltd was also planning to use the same name that it registered with the CAC.
It further averred that through its lawyers, it warned K .C. Gaming Networks to desist, but the company allegedly continued to brand its POS terminals, T-shirts and other souvenir with the Lotto9ja trademark.
The applicants sought an Anton Piller order and prayed the court to, among others, restrain the defendants.
Upholding their application, Justice Taiwo held: “An order of Anton Piller injunction is hereby made directing the 2nd and 3rd defendants, to forthwith permit the Sheriff to enter and search the 2nd and 3rd defendants’ premises located at 9, Funsho Williams Avenue, by Fire Service Station, Ojuelegba bus stop, Lagos.
The order also authorised the Sheriff to search “any other premises and sales/storage outlets anywhere in Nigeria belonging to the 2nd and 3rd defendants or any of their agents operating under the name “Bet9ja” or “Lotto9ja” for the purpose of taking possession of all products, equipment and products branded and/or sold in the name/brand “Lotto9ja” (or its variants “9jalotto”, lottonaija”, “naijalotto”) and removing them therefrom into the custody and possession of this honourable court pending the hearing and determination of this action.”
The judge also restrained the Registrar of Trademarks from “accepting, publishing or approving any other application for the registration of the trade/business name “Lotto9ja” or it variants “9ja lotto” “Lottonaija” as trademarks or part of any trademarks, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”