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Wednesday, 27 March 2024 09:36

Judgment reserved in matter between ANC & MK Party over the use of a logo.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Judgment has been reserved in the African National Congress' (ANC) trademark case against the Umkhonto weSizwe party.

The ANC wants to stop the MK party from using the name and logo linked to the ANC's armed wing uMkhonto weSizwe.

In court documents, ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula called on the court to compel the MK Party to pay reasonable "royalties" or damages for its illegal use of a logo resembling the ANC's former armed wing, uMkhonto weSizwe.

The ANC wants the MK Party to desist from using the logo.

The judge said the ruling on the matter would be delivered in due course.

There were critical arguments made on the basis of urgency, including if the ANC acted swiftly enough in bringing the case to court and the jurisdiction of the matter.

During court proceedings, the ANC relied largely on Section 34(1)a of the Trade Marks Act to make their arguments in court.

The ANC argued the MK party using the logo and the name is an infringement of the uMkhonto we Sizwe trademark which belongs to the governing party. It said the Trade Marks law should apply to political parties and not just businesses.

ANC advocate Tshidiso Ramogale argued the ANC brought the case before the court because it wants to deal with the possibility of political parties willy nilly naming their organisations while not actually considering the issue of trademarks.

Ramogale also argued the Electoral Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter relating to the infringement of the Trademark Act.

The ANC did appeal the issue of the logo with the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), but it was dismissed and the governing party opted not appeal the decision on the basis of urgency and lack of jurisdiction.

"The assessment made by the Electoral Commission when there is a dispute about a mark only concerns the registration of the party. It does not concern the lawful use of that particular mark by the party, and the lawful use in this particular instance – where there is in fact a trademark question – cannot be an issue that is decided by the Electoral Court or the Commission," Ramogale argued.

The ANC wants to stop the MK Party from using the name uMkhonto weSizwe, while the MK Party is fighting to keep the name.

MK party counsels advocate Dali Mpofu and Muzi Sikhakhane argued the ANC was not the owner of the intellectual property of the uMkhonto we Sizwe, so they had no basis to make an application in the high court.

"They wait for six months and they do nothing and they expect the uMkhonto we Sizwe now to rush a month before the election when they've already campaigned due to their laxity. Okay, if we call it uMkhonto full stop. Are they going to be happy or uMkhonto ka Zuma, maybe that’s what they want it to be called, or something.

"It will make no practical difference. So they are here just to waste the courts' time. The reality is they wanted the party to be deregistered and they failed and there's nothing more your lordship or anybody can do about it. The voters on the 29th of May will have their choice and they will not be confused. It’s an insult to our people to think they can be confused between some spear that is facing upward and another," Mpofu argued.

This comes just a day after the Electoral Court dismissed its application for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to de-register the MK party ahead of the May polls.