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Barclays Bank of Kenya (NSE:BBK) has termed a suit filed by a Kenyan firm laying claims to the Absa name as malicious, arguing that it has also registered the name for use in Kenya.


BBK’s claim is contained in a response to a suit filed by ABSA Kenya Limited seeking to permanently restrain Barclays from adopting Absa as a trade name following recent changes in the bank’s ownership at the continental level.


ABSA Kenya, which was incorporated in 2005, says it reserved the name with the Registrar of Trademarks for exclusive use and that it has incurred huge financial losses since Barclays announced plans to rebrand.


But in its response, BBK says Absa Bank Limited (South Africa), a sister company, applied for registration of the name at the Registrar of Trademarks and was granted permission on September 20, 2016.

The bank argues that there is no conflict between the use of the name since the two firms obtained exclusive use in different categories.


“While the plaintiff has registered its trade mark ABSA, the registration is in class 16 for letterheads, stationery, complimentary slips, business cards and printing matters. On the other hand, the defendant’s trademark registration is in class 36 for insurance, financial, monetary, and real estate affairs,” says Barclays Bank in its response.


The lender further argues that there are at least 12 other companies that have incorporated the word Absa in their corporate names, claiming that the Kenyan firm should not ask for exclusive use.


The firm says the name has been used by Absa Group for over 26 years and it is an abbreviation of ‘Amalgamated Banks of South Africa.


ABSA Kenya says Barclays has carried out a massive media campaign that has occasioned it huge losses after many clients cancelled transactions on the grounds that it is no longer possible to tell who Absa is.


ABSA Kenya Limited has produced tax return documents, details of a website domain it claims to have been registered in 2005 and registration documents to back up its case.


The company says since inception it has operated bank accounts and filed tax returns at the Registrar of Companies under its ABSA name.


It accuses Barclays of negligence, arguing that a search at the companies and trademark registries could have showed the true ownership of the name.

 

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