Quoting from the Century case:
“the meaning of Century City flows directly from the development of a piece of land located in Montague Gardens. The meaning of Century City is inextricably linked to this particular development. The right that flows therefrom emerged from the nature of the development rather than from a dictionary meaning or a geographical location.”
“The essential characteristic, for which he [Respondent] contends, is they are ‘Century City Apartments’ not that they are necessarily located in Century City. The descriptive power is connoted in the words ‘Century City’. Hence this phrase seeks to exploit the value which is inherent in the trade mark belonging to applicant.”
The decision endorses the importance of registering trade marks. If this case was brought on passing off alone it would have been more difficult for the Applicant to succeed and more risky to prosecute. The decision also highlights that developers have an ongoing need to ensure that names of their creations are properly used, on a continual basis. That said, with all the name changes and new developments in South Africa over the last decade there must be a fine line between what is actually a geographical location and a proprietory development. For example, what if Century City was in fact a government funded housing development for the re-settlement of a shanty town, which gave birth to a Century City Estate Agency. In the same way that a Johannesburg Estate Agency would not infringe trade mark rights in the word Johannesburg, Century City Estate Agency would surely not infringe trade mark rights in Century City (in that example)?
It is not clear whether the case has been appealed.
[i] Century City Property Owners Association (A Section 21 Company) v Century City Apartments Property Services CC and Others; Century City Apartments Property Services CC v Century City Property Owners Association ( A Section 21 Company) and Another (17225/2005)  ZAWCHC 63