Friends-turned-rivals fight over popular wine shop in Westlands

Chez Sonia wine bar

A corner of a garden at Chez Sonia wine bar along Peponi Road in Nairobi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A businesswoman has moved to court to stop a former partner-turned-rival from using a name she allegedly registered to promote a wine business in Westlands, Nairobi.

Ms Salome Kiende filed the case under a certificate of urgency seeking to stop a former partner, Sonia Mansioui, from using the name Chez Sonia for her wine shop on Peponi Road.

Ms Kiende says in court papers that she registered the company Chez Sonia Ltd in January last year as the sole director.

She said that earlier in 2018, she and Ms Sonia leased a property to operate a business and the two popularised the name before they fell out and disbanded the association.

However, she said, Ms Sonia later partnered with Ernesto Estrada Gonzalez and Esther Muthoni and started a wine bar using the name Chez Sonia.

Trade mark

“Subsequently, the defendants, without disclosure of the prior existence of the plaintiff (Chez Sonia Ltd), unlawfully caused a trade mark to be registered  on 17 May, 2019 in the name of Chez Sonia thereby jeopardising the plaintiff’s registration of its trademark,” Ms Kiende says in a sworn statement.

She said the new registration is causing confusion among prospective customers as to who truly runs and owns Chez Sonia Limited and Chez Sonia within the same market in Nairobi.

She says use of the second name is opportunistic and geared at taking advantage of her company’s trade name and goodwill.

“The registration of the defendant’s name is also calculated to pass off the defendants as part of or an affiliate of the plaintiff’s business and that is why the defendants acquired a name which differed from the plaintiff by the mere addition of the word ‘limited’,” she said.

She wants the court to bar the use of the name and to be paid damages for infringement of her intellectual property rights.

Fight over restaurant

Ms Kiende had earlier been charged in a Kiambu court as they fought over the restaurant, after she allegedly raided the joint and destroyed property.

She was charged with breaking into a building and committing a felony, malicious damage to property and stealing.

In response, Mr Gonzalez says the petition by Ms Kiende is misconceived and an abuse of the court process.

“I am the registered proprietor of the trademark ‘Chez Sonia’, duly registered," he said, adding that the name was registered on May 17, 2019.

He said that after registration, they marketed it extensively to the general population and gained goodwill.

"I clarify that the plaintiff has concealed the fact that name ‘Chez Sonia’ derives from the 1st defendant’s first name, and translated from French means the “House of Sonia,” he said in his response.

“I state that the trademark ‘Chez Sonia’ was duly registered under the Trade Mark Act under my name and thus I did not need any licence from the applicant herein or anyone at all," Ms Sonia said in an affidavit.

The matter is set for hearing on April 6, 2021.

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