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Companies

Bic firms fight Doshi defamation lawsuit

Counterfeit Bic pens and batteries seized during a past crackdown on illicit imports. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Two companies dealing in the manufacture of Bic products have denied defaming a Kenyan firm, Doshi Ironmongers Ltd when they stated that the Mombasa-based dealer imported and sold counterfeit pens in 1996.

French corporation Société Bic and Chris Kirubi-owned Haco Industries Limited argue that their complaints to the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and other State agencies over the importation of counterfeit goods by the firm linked to Mombasa tycoon Ashok Doshi were mere statements of facts.

Haco Remuneration, Benefit and Administration Manager Kariuki Njagi said his company’s formal complaint about the use of its trademark on the allegedly counterfeit goods did not amount to defamation.

“The words in the said letter were not defamatory and consisted in pertinent part of no more and no less than statements of facts,” he said.

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Testifying before Chief Magistrate Evans Makori, the manager said the letters were written and published in reasonable protection of their legitimate interests and in the aid of justice.

“The statements communicated a request to the agencies to investigate the possible contravention of the statutes, the administration of which the government agencies were charged with,” Mr Njagi said.

Mr Doshi is the director of Doshi Ironmongers, which allegedly imported and engaged in the sale of counterfeit pens bearing Bic trademarks.

Doshi Ironmongers sued Société Bic and Haco Industries seeking more than Sh20 million in general damages.

Mr Doshi’s company had in 1996 imported 400 cartons of ballpoint pens from China. The items were sold to several retailers in Mombasa and Nairobi including Nakumatt Supermarket.

While testifying in the defamation suit, Mr Doshi said the companies acted in malice by writing to Kenyan authorities to take action against them yet they had already been arrested and charged. “We entered into an agreement with Société Bic and Haco Industries Ltd to settle the matter. I paid Sh15 million for the imported pens. It was agreed that I keep the consignment,” he told the court.

But the complainant says in 2002, Haco breached the agreement when it filed a complaint with the Kebs that resulted in his rearrest.

The hearing continues on June 27.

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