Airtel renews M-Pesa agents row with Safaricom

Money Transfer

In June Safaricom took Airtel to court over a trademark dispute over mobile money transfer service branding, advertising and promotion. Safaricom claimed Airtel was infringing on its M-pesa trademark by including symbols on its  advertising.  Safaricom further alleged that Airtel was riding on the M-Pesa’s extensive marketing to gain advantage in the market. This was regards to the agents shared between the two telcos. The sharing of agents, was a decision made by the Competition Authority of Kenya seeking to open up Safaricom’s M-pesa agent network which numbers to over 85,000 to its rivals.

Airtel is now alleging that Safaricom has been coercing its mobile money agents to remove Airtel branding from their shops and stop offering Airtel Money services with failure to which leading to disconnection of the M-Pesa agent accounts. Airtel argues these moves contravene a settlement made by the Competition Authority of Kenya according to reports carried by Business Daily. Airtel further claims Safaricom has failed to follow up on the matter despite giving assurances to look into the matter.

In the trademark suit which is still in Court, Safaricom presented pictures as evidence, showing Airtel’s usage of signs similar to M-pesa trademarks for the promotion of its Airtel Money service.  The two trademarks infringed are registration number 60093 used in advertising and business management administration, which includes a mobile phone between M and Pesa letters. The other is registration number 62612 used in branding of  clothing, footwear and headgear with a hyphen between M and Pesa.
Source: Business Daily 3 December 2015