Airtel Kenya has been directed by the court to compensate journalist Willis Raburu a sum of Sh6.5 million following a ruling that found the telecommunications company guilty of unauthorized use of his trademark 'Bazu'.

Milimani Commercial Chief Magistrate Rawlings Musiega delivered the verdict, affirming Raburu's claim that Airtel had employed the 'Bazu' trademark to promote one of their internet bundle products without his consent.

The court proceedings revealed that Raburu had registered the trademark on April 13, 2021, under No. 116744, granting him exclusive rights to its use.

Musiega's ruling mandates Airtel to cease using the 'Bazu' trademark in any broadcast media material and prohibits them from adopting anything resembling it.

Additionally, Airtel has been instructed to pay Raburu Sh5 million in special damages and a further Sh1.5 million in general damages.

Although the court has ruled in Raburu's favor, Airtel Kenya has been granted a 45-day stay of execution or the option to file an appeal within the same period.

In his defence, Raburu, represented by lawyer Victor Orandi of Matthew and Partners Advocates, argued that Airtel's usage of the trademark constituted infringement.

He contended that the trademark had been registered specifically for use in advertising and telecommunications services, as per the International Classification of Goods and Services.

Airtel Kenya countered Raburu's claims, alleging that his intentions were purely financially driven and accused him of seeking a quick settlement.

They argued that the term 'Bazu' was in common usage by various parties prior to Raburu's registration, undermining his exclusive rights claim.

Furthermore, Airtel asserted that 'Bazu' was a well-known slang term in the local Sheng language and was not originally coined by Raburu.

Raburu expressed his satisfaction with the court's decision in a social media post, urging other businesses to respect intellectual property rights.

He wrote, "Respect for intellectual property is paramount, and those using the name BAZU without authority will face similar consequences, as legal notices have already been served. I extend my gratitude to God for this favourable outcome. Success is reflected in actions, and I am grateful for the resolution of this matter."

The ruling serves as a reminder to companies to carefully consider intellectual property laws and the rights of individuals in their marketing endeavours.

As businesses continue to innovate and compete in the market, safeguarding intellectual property remains a critical aspect of corporate responsibility and legal compliance.