Telegraph Newspaper: One Name, Multiple Users By Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni
Identity or brand identity over the years has been a keenly protected intellectual property because its being is bore out of intellectual depth, nerve cracking brainstorming or adoption of a franchise that has attracted patronage, acceptance and clientele. Brand identity can be in name, logo, byline, or type of service. These are the symbolic elements that distinguish established brands in whatsoever field.
Business analyst has identified that name or creating your brand is a crucial element of business. Since it is the created brand name that people could identify the service or product such company provides with. Naming your business is one of the very first things you have to think about, and it’s something that will stick with your business for long, so it is worthy of protection; copyright, Patent, and trademark.
This is why a business entity must not stumble upon a name and adopt, there should be discreteness, authenticity, and uniqueness even in areas of franchising.
Just as in the annals of accounting where a company’s brand name is classified as an intangible asset and the most valuable in a corporation’s balance sheet, in the world of print media, a newspaper’s name overshadow the logo, byline or the publisher, the name is what appears in references, editorial reviews, media sponsorship banners, corporate inclusion, broadcast mentioning amongst others. Thus, sharing a name or a part of a name in print journalism puts to question the respect such conflicting newspapers have for the sensibility of their prospective audience. When newspaper names like The Telegraph and Today’s Telegraph or The Nigerian Telegraph appears on the news-stand at the same time, one would agree they are too close for comfort, misleading and confusing.
Ethically speaking, in a nation groping with mass illiteracy and poor discerning ability even for political parties, adding a newspaper name that many in editorial sections have said is too close for comfort is not so palatable. Won’t it be contemptuous to demand “Telegraph” from your vendor and he drops a newspaper that their ideology or style of reportage does not fall in with yours. The name closeness can even be forgiven if there is regional boundary of sales, but the two medium; The Telegraph and Today’s Telegraph are looking at a pan-Nigeria distribution and audience.
There seems to be a looming legal tussle between Oberoche Limited the publishers of Today’s Telegraphy/ The Nigerian Telegraph(Online) and The Telegraph Publishing Company, the owners of The Telegraph newspaper over name rights.
Today’s Telegraph with its domineering online presence with The Nigerian Telegraphy web page www.telegraphNG.com, has its office at No. 5 Mercy Eneli, off Marsha bus-stop, Surulere and 21, Boyle Street, Onikan, Lagos with Chiedu Ozordi, a former Daily Times employee as its most senior Editor. It proud itself as a media “managed by a crack team of award-winning journalists”, that “exists to arm readers with the power of information to facilitate national discourse”. While “The Telegraph” is owned by former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, who is also the publisher of The Sun Newspaper, with Bolaji Tunji, the former Editor of Sunday Mirror as the Managing Director of the news medium. Before his new appointment, he had been former Editor, Breaking News, an evening Publication of Daily Independent; former Deputy Editor, Daily Independent on Sunday; former Deputy Editor, Daily Times; former Editor, The Comet on Saturday and Editor, The Nation newspaper on Saturday.
According to an online legal encyclopedia, NOLO, www.nolo.com, “one trademark legally conflicts with another when the use of both trademarks is likely to confuse customers about the products or services, or their source. In case of a legal conflict with a later user, the first commercial user of a trademark owns it.
If a legal conflict is found to exist, the later user will probably have to stop using the mark and may even have to pay the trademark owner damages”. But while The Telegraph claimed to have been registered with Corporate Affairs Commission over 5years ago, Today’s Telegraph could be said to have been more prominent commercially.
A practical example of brand name similarity battle was the trade mark right that evolved between Apple Corps (owned by The Beatles) and the computer manufacturer Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.), in 1978. The case dragged till 2006 then the High Court of Justice of England and Wales handed down a judgment on 8 May 2006 in favour of Apple Computer partially for its commercial dominance.
Another case in point is the Twitter vs. Twittad debacle. In October 2011, Twitter made headlines for settling its long-standing dispute with Twittad and finally puts itself in line to protect “Tweet” as a federally registered trademark in the United State of America. Following the launch of the social media platform in 2006, the owner fails to seek trademark protection for the word “tweet” till 2009. By that time, several other companies who sensed the viability of the twitter brand name had already applied for registration of various trademarks either constituting or incorporating the word “Tweet” for use in connection with online sharing and marketing services.
A particular company Twittad, had a “Let Your Ad Meet Tweets” catch phrase that makes it difficult for Twitter, to trademark the word “tweet”. After trying multiple avenues to protect its “Tweet” trademark, Twitter ended up entering into a settlement agreement with Twittad. Twittad transferred the “Let Your Ad Meet Tweets” trademark to Twitter, making way for Twitter to file its related “Tweet” trademark registration application.
Across the world, the telegraph name is well established, Telegraph Media Group, is the publisher of The Sunday Telegraph and The Daily Telegraph, United Kingdom. The Telegraph (Alton), Illinois, United States, The Telegraph (Macon), Georgia, United States, The Telegraph (Nashua), New Hampshire, United States, The Telegraph (Calcutta), India, The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), Australia, The Telegraph (magazine),The Daily Telegraph (Hawke’s Bay), New Zealand and in Nigeria we have Today’s Telegraph and The Telegraph.
Who bows out first? Would Orji Kalu use his political influence to stiff its competitors out of business? Or would the owners of Today’s Telegraph through their front make a resounding statement by not allowing The Telegraph vis a vis Orji Kalu to enjoy the privilege of having a media empire? Many questions awaiting answers.
Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni, tweets via @Sanity0407. Send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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