The Trademark Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at a sitting in Abuja has ruled that Pace Sports and Entertainment Marketing Limited is the bonafide owner of the Higher Institutions Football League (HiFL) trademark. By the ruling, Green-White-Green Sports Centre Limited (GWG) has been barred from laying claims to the HiFL Trademark and any other HiFL proprietaries.
In a ruling delivered on Monday, May 24, 2021, after listening to the counsel for both parties, the Acting Registrar and Chairperson of the Commission, Barrister Anne Titi Adeleye ruled that “by the combined effects of Section 11, 13 and 18 of the Trade Mark Act, the Petitioner’s (Pace Sports) application is the first in time while that of the Respondent (GWG) is subsequent especially given the fact that the said Petitioner’s application has fulfilled the requisite pre-condition for registration”.
Regarding the certification given to GWG, Adeleye stated that “it is my conclusion that the acceptance letter NG/T/2018/7190 dated 2nd of September and certificate of registration RTM 110975 dated 10th of February, 2021 have been issued on a defective proprietary claim” and that they “are hereby revoked and all steps leading to the issuance invalidated”.
By this ruling, it becomes illegal for Green-White-Green Sports Centre Limited to lay claim or deal with anyone as owners of the HiFL Trademark and its proprietaries as that may “likely deceive or create confusion” among stakeholders the Commission noted. Therefore, all statements emanating from GWG, its representative and those appointed on its Board regarding HiFL becomes null and void.
PACE, a sports and entertainment marketing company in 2018 incorporated the Higher Institutions Football League. Since then, the Company has completed two league seasons and one e-invitational season of HiFL. The HiFL is presently in its third active season.
Reacting to the ruling, the Director, PACE Sports, Mr Sola Fijabi expressed his satisfaction and restated the commitment of the company to provide a great opportunity for Nigerian youths to express themselves and excel in sports as a career equal to their academic pursuits.
“The Commission has made it clear that anyone or organisation that wishes to identify with HiFL should deal with Pace Sports as the rightful owners of HiFL. We are very pleased with the ruling and we salute the diligence of the Commission in investigating and delivering a verdict on this matter. When we incorporated the Higher Institutions Football League in 2018, our goals were very clear and the goals are still intact. We will not be distracted. We also wish to express our profound appreciation to our partner, the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) for their support. We also thank our sponsors for believing in the HiFL values and appreciate their unflinching support” Fijabi said.