Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Bayede! a brand of the Zulu Nation

The Zulu community is mooted as Africa's most powerful traditional nation. Although largely based in South Africa's province of Kwazulu-Natal which is home to the royal household, the nation is said to have over 30 million followers that spread throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa. The community has been ruled by many famous kings including Dingaan, Shaka and Cetshwayo who represented a nation as fearless as they were powerful. 

For the last 42 years, the nation has been represented by King Goodwill Zwelithini whose reign has experienced much of the vast change in South Africa during this time, and who has successfully lead his nation throughout. His role is very much that of a modern monarch, combining deep traditions, customs and the essence of being a Zulu with changing contemporary society. One of the nation's recent initiatives has been to partner with another icon of South Africa, their wines. The result has been very successful.

The initiative lead by Antoinette Vermooten's team at Bayede has lead to the creation of a brand around the distinctly Zulu greeting "Hail the King" and a Royal certification. The initiative also includes the novel concept of selling wines with Zulu beadwork adorning the neck label of the bottles, thus creating demand for local leaders. The model has been so successful that it has been taught at local business university Gibbs and the wines are sold in distribution networks that include Walmart.

What makes this so relevant to this blog is that it is an example of the fusion of modern intellectual property systems with traditional imagery and expression of an African nation. The brand is Bayede! is protected by a trade mark and certification marks, the Zulu crest, symbolism and emblems are state emblems that are protected by heraldic laws, Article 6ter of the Paris Convention and by local laws of passing off and statute. Afro-IP supports this initiative.


Jeremy Speres said...

Hi Darren. Great, positive story - thank you!

I'm interested to know whether any steps were taken to protect the concept of beading the bottle necks?

I'd imagine that a trade mark application could encounter the "merely decorative" objection (raised in Bergkelder), however I wonder whether the SCA's recent statements in Addidas v Pepkor haven't opened the door slightly for applicants to overcome such an objection, at least in theory. There the Court stated:

"It seems to me that it will be very difficult to persuade a court that any mark applied to goods for ‘embellishment’ or ‘decoration’ ... is not applied for the purpose of distinguishing the goods."

As you say, the idea of beading the bottle necks is novel, so if not a TM then perhaps an aesthetic design registration?

Darren said...

Hello Jeremy, if you accept that the beading around the neck label is part of the marketing of the product and hence enjoys advertising goodwill and has become a distinctive feature of Bayede, then there ought to be no reason why one cannot rely on advertising legislation (imitation and advertising goodwill), common law (passing off) and trade mark rights to protect the concept. The challenge is how best would you describe the mark on the TM1!
Thanks for the input.

Jeremy Speres said...

Thanks Darren!