Boko privatizes UDC brand

13 May 2019

Confusion and intrigue surrounds an application by Botswana National Front (BNF) and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President Duma Boko’s application to the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) to be personally granted exclusive ownership of the UDC “presidential” brand.

BNF Secretary General and Umbrella for Democratic Change spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) President Motlatsi Molapisi agree that a decision to register the UDC trade mark was agreed at the National Executive Committee (NEC). That is as far as the agreement goes.

While Molapsi told the Sunday Standard that the NEC agreed that the trade mark be registered in the party name and not under Boko, Mohwasa on the other hand stated that, “kindly note that the brand that you whatsapped and which is registered at CIPA is not the UDC logo but a Presidential Seal. You can refer to the UDC symbol that is registered with the IEC and also check the UDC Brand Manual.”

Mohwasa further explained that the logo that is registered at CIPA which you are talking about will be used by the UDC President. This logo will be used sparingly on Presidential initiatives. That is the position as discussed at the NEC. All other members will adhere to the Brand Manual.

The Head of Communications is also under instruction to ensure that the UDC Logo as it appears in the Brand Manual is registered. This as we have mentioned, is the symbol that is with IEC. 

Botswana Congress party President, Dumelang Saleshando would not comment on the issue and referred all queries to Mohwasa.

Sunday Standard investigations have turned up a letter under the “advocate Duma Gideon Boko” date stamped 6th March 2019 and signed by Boko under the subheading: “APPLICATION FOR REGISTRATION OF TRADE MARK “UDC”IN FAVOUR OF DUMA GIDEON BOKO.”

The letter states: “I would like to apply for registration of the Trademark stated above in classes 25, 35 and 41. I attach the following form11, duly completed; four additional reproductions of the Mark and receipt of payment of the Application Fee of P240.00”.

The additional reproductions of the Mark referred to include a UDC logo depicting a blue umbrella over the words UDC in white reverse bromide against a blue background. Boko also presented for registration the “DUMABOKO for president 2019” logo in blue white and black.

The Sunday Standard was also able to raise the CIPA Trade Mark Filing Receipt which was issued to Boko on 7th March 2019 under file number BW/M201900153.

As per the CIPA procedure, it is understood that the trademark has been accepted and will be published in the Patents and Trademarks journal for three (3) months, to allow third parties to raise objections to registration if any. If there is no objection after three months of publication in the journal, Boko will be invited to pay the registration fee of P180.00. Five days after payment of the registration fee, Boko will be issued certificate of registration of a trademark.

Speculations that the UDC brand registered under Boko’s name is a fall back for the coalition in case they lose their legal battle with the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) adds intrigue to the confusion over the trade mark registration. The BMD seeks to among other things bar the BCP, BNF and BPP from using the UDC brand for the 2019 general elections.

As the proprietor of the UDC trademark, which Mohwasa referred to as the presidential seal, Boko will own the right to use the brand to the exclusion of UDC member parties which include the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) and the Botswana National Front (BNF) who will require written authorization from him before they can use the UDC name and logo. The brand will become Boko’s personal asset which he can sell or demand royalties from the BNF, BCP and BPP or any third party for its use.

The mark registration will grant Boko powerful remedies against unauthorized use by anyone including the BCP, BPP and BNF who could be sued for infringement.