Sun Foods Trading Limited has admitted that in April, 2019, it unknowingly manufactured, packaged and branded biscuits as ‘Chelsea’, a trademark for another biscuits manufacturing company.
The company has further submitted to the Lusaka High Court that it has no objection to the forfeiture of the 367 boxes of the said biscuits.
This is a matter in which the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has sued Sun Foods Trading Limited and its two directors Shengming Li and Wenzhuang Li for deliberately imitating the Chelsea trademark and packaging.
The DPP had asked the Lusaka High Court to grant it a Non-Conviction based forfeiture order of 367 boxes of counterfeit Chelsea Biscuits as they are tainted property.
In an affidavit in support of notice of motion for a non-conviction-based forfeiture order, Kennedy Munangisa, a detective inspector in the Zambia Police Service, submitted that on April 10, 2019, he was assigned a case of sale of goods bearing forged trademark in which the complainant was Swiss Bake Limited, a subsidiary of Trade Kings Limited.
He stated that it came to his attention that the complainant was a manufacturing company in the business of baking biscuits and in particular the Chelsea brand of coconut biscuits.
Munangisa stated that he instituted investigations into the matter and interviewed Richard Lubinda, director legal in Swiss Bake Limited Company.
“He stated that Trade Kings Limited and later Swiss Bake Limited had owned a trademark Chelsea since 2015 and had been manufacturing and retailing biscuits under the said brand,” read the statement in part.
Munangisa stated that Trade Kings discovered that another manufacturer was supplying their customers with biscuits purporting to be Chelsea biscuits.
He said Trade Kings further discovered that the other manufacturer supplying their customers Chelsea Biscuits was Sun Foods Trading Limited.
He stated that representatives from Trade Kings visited Sun Foods Trading Limited undercover and purchased a box of biscuits purporting to be Chelsea Biscuits and reported the matter to the police.
Munangisa stated that he made a follow-up on Lubinda’s report by conducting a search at the Patent and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) to ascertain whether the Chelsea trademark was registered.
He stated that he discovered the trademark ‘Chelsea’ was a registered trademark of Swiss Bake Limited by virtue of consent letter from its parent company Trades Kings Limited for a period of seven years to-date.
Munangisa stated that a search for any trademarks to Sun Foods Limited at PACRA showed that there were no trademarks or patents in the name of Sun Foods Trading Limited.
He further stated that on April 17, 2019, he obtained a search warrant to have access to the defendants’ premises and discovered 367 boxes of biscuits packaged and labelled Chelsea Biscuits, which he seized and removed from the premises.
Munangisa stated that he contacted Lubinda to verify the trademark brand and packaging of the biscuit seized and it was established that Sun Foods Trading Limited had branded their biscuits Chelsea in the same manner as the Swiss Bake Chelsea biscuits, which led him to the conclusion that they had infringed and illegally imitated the Chelsea trademark.
But according to an affidavit in opposition of notice of motion for a non-conviction based forfeiture order filed in the Lusaka High Court, January 22, Sun Food Trading Limited operations Manager Edith Mpanga Chisonde stated that the company was duly registered with the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA).
She added that the company was specialized in the manufacturing of confectioneries, which includes biscuits.
Chisonde stated that during the course of its production, the company, sometime in April, 2019, unknowingly manufactured and packaged biscuits and branded them as Chelsea, a trademark for another biscuit manufacturing company.
She stated that it only came to the attention of the company and its directors that the brand name ‘Chelsea’ was duly registered as a trad mark for Swiss Bake, a subsidiary of the Trade Kings Group of Companies, after the police conducted a search at the company production plant and seized 367 boxes of its Chelsea branded biscuits as counterfeits.
Chisonde further stated that Sun Food Trading Limited was later cited for trademark infringement following the seizure of 367 boxes of Chelsea branded biscuits from the company production plant by the intellectual property unit of Zambia Police headquarters.
“Sun Food Trading Limited met with Trade Kings Group of Companies and mutually agreed to settle the matter out of court and the matter was subsequently withdrawn from the Subordinates’ Court by Trade Kings as the complainants,” she stated.
Chisonde stated that the two directors, Shengming Li and Wenzhuang Li, were no longer employees of Sun Food Trading Limited and had since left the country after the withdrawal of the case from the Subordinates’ Court.
She stated that Sun Food Trading Limited was served with a notice of hearing on January 14, 2020, in relation to the notice of motion for non-conviction based forfeiture for the 367 boxes of counterfeit or imitated biscuits seized from the company production plant by the police.
“That Sun Food Trading Limited as a company and directors has no objection to the forfeiture of the 367 boxes of the said biscuits in pursuant to section 29, 30 and 31 of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act number 19 of 2010 of the Laws of Zambia,” stated Chisonde.