BUSINESS

Dafabet Kenya sued for name infringement by local design firm

TAGs: Dafabet, Kenya, SportPesa, Uganda

dafabet-kenya-name-infringment-lawsuitOnline gambling operator Dafabet is being sued by a Kenyan interior design firm for allegedly infringing on its intellectual property.

Asian-focused betting operator Dafabet launched its Kenya-facing Dafabet.co.ke site in March, joining the likes of SportPesa, Betway and Elitebet in targeting this large African market. But local firm Dafabet Kenya Ltd (DFK) claims the gambling site is using trademarks that don’t belong to it.

DFK has a barebones website (Dafabetkenya.com) that describes the company as a Kenya-registered “top house sports designer input and equipment” firm. DFK also has a Facebook page which, like the Dafabet Kenya betting site, appears to have launched this March.

On Sunday, the Standard reported that DFK’s lawyers had filed a lawsuit accusing the betting site of “unlawfully, illegally and wrongfully” using DFK’s name to promote betting and gaming activities in Kenya. The lawsuit asks the court to block the use of the Dafabet name for betting purposes within Kenya.

The filing by DFK’s lawyer Anthony Kiprono claims that DFK’s Facebook page and email accounts are being besieged by Kenyan gamblers making inquiries about betting opportunities. Kiprono said the misuse of DFK’s Kenyan-registered identity “not only confuses the plaintiff’s clients but exposes the plaintiff to third-party claims that may arise from the defendant’s illegal acts.”

KENYA TAX HIKE HAS SPORTPESA LOOKING AT UGANDA
Dafabet’s arrival in the Kenyan market came just before the country’s legislators imposed a new uniform 35% tax on all gambling revenue, a significant hike from the 7.5% tax betting operators had been paying at the time of Dafabet’s arrival.

In April, SportPesa filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the government’s original proposal to hike gambling taxes to 50% of revenue. On Friday, the Standard reported that SportPesa was committed to challenging the new tax, which is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2018.

Earlier this month, a top SportPesa exec announced that the company would shut its Kenyan operations before the overly punitive tax kicked in. While this threat/vow was subsequently walked back by SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri, the company appears to be increasing efforts to diversify its geographical revenue base.

Late last week, Ugandan government officials traveled to Kenya to meet with Karauri regarding the company setting up shop in Uganda. Karauri told the Standard that SportPesa was “more than ready to help the Ugandan government streamline the sector” by channeling punters currently betting with unauthorized betting operators to a locally licensed site.

SportPesa recently expanded its operations into Tanzania and Ugandan officials are reportedly willing to offer significant concessions if SportPesa agrees to sponsor Ugandan sports bodies to the extent that, until the new 35% tax was imposed, the betting operator used to provide to Kenyan sports.

Unlike Kenya’s 35% gambling revenue tax, Uganda imposes a 35% tax on gambling operator’s profits. Ugandan Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs Florence Kiyingi, who also chairs Uganda’s Premier Soccer League side Express FC, said the government had invited SportPesa “to come down to Uganda and look at the regulation further.”

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