In what is reminiscent of the prevailed spirit that necessitated the creation of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, Academy Awards, otherwise known as Oscars has made a move to muzzle a perceived innovation and competition – UNIVERSAL MOVIE ACADEMY AWARDS (UNIMAA)
The first trademark opposition was filed by ALLAN & OGUNKEYE a Nigerian law firm based in Lagos on behalf of Academy Of Motions Pictures Arts and Sciences to the trademark office in Abuja Nigeria. And the subsequent opposition is filed by SCOTT MILLER Assistant General Counsel and Managing Director Legal and Administrations ACADEMY OF MOTIONS PICTURES ARTS AND SCIENCES (AMPAS) of the address 8949 Wilshire Boulevard Beverly Hills, California 90211 USA.
A mirrored dispute is also at the US Patent and Trademark law office – as Oscars seeks to muzzle UNIMAA’s existence beyond the shores of Africa.
The about 91year old movie giant of American origin is fighting to systematically eliminate UNIVERSAL MOVIE ACADEMY AWARDS (UNIMAA), which originates from the African nation, Nigeria under the guise of trademark conflict by challenging the registration of UNIMAA on the African shore. The founder of Universal Movie Academy Awards Mr Hope Obioma Opara was surprised with the nefarious activity of the OSCARS orchestrated to eliminate this new innovation.
A pertinent question is ‘what is Academy Of Motions Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is afraid of?
It will interest you to know that in 2018, Academy Awards, through their litigant filed an objection with the ministry of Trade and commerce, Nigeria, objecting to the existence of UNIMAA. We responded with a contrary stance to this objection since we reviewed the trademark laws and found that the terms “Academy” and “Awards” are generic words that cannot solely be used by any entity. More so, the qualifier, “Universal Movie” in Universal Movie Academy Awards clearly distinguishes UNIMAA from Academy Awards that has no such qualifier. A mandatory 90 day period passed and no further objection to our response as required by law was raised.
To understand this argument, “African Union” is distinguished from “European Union” although the word “union” is a common decimal. United States cannot be confused with United Arab Emirates because of the existence of “United.” Standard Bank cannot challenge United Bank of Africa for the use of the term “Bank”, because in all the instances cited, the usage of those generic terms, even if registered by any of the corporations engaging in similar services, doesn’t result in confusion for the public with respect to the individualities of the organizations – and therefore does not constitute infringement.
The Founder of Universal Movie Academy Awards, Mr Hope Obioma Opara, in his submission gave instances of countries where the two generic words “ACADEMY” & “AWARDS” are used in sync as stated below.
The Opponent’s ground of Opposition puts the Opponent to the strictest proof of the averments thereof. The opponent does not have the exclusive and proprietary right over generic words like “ACADEMY AWARD” either in the United States of America and other parts of the world.
The use of only ACADEMY AWARDS without element to distinguish makes it ambiguous. On a serious note AMPASS should not bar or foreclose the usage of ACADEMY AWARDS just for themselves because ‘ACADEMY AWARD’ is similar to BEAUTY PAGENT, FILM FESTIVAL, TRADE UNION, COLLEGE OF EDUCATION,TECHNICAL COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY etc. that are all generic words, requiring qualifiers for distinguishing from other organizations using the combinations of these generic terms.
The followings are example of countries where “ACADEMY AWARD” are being used in the brand names of such entities.
For instance in
a) – In NIGERIA, AFRICAN MOVIE ACADEMY AWARDS (AMAA() Founded in 2005
b) – In INDIA, “INTERNATIONAL INDIAN FILM ACADEMY AWARDS”; (First awarded: 2000) The 2017 edition was held July 14–15, 2017 in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA. Interestingly, although this event was right under the nose of OSCARS, no infractions from Oscars barring the event was registered.
c) – In ITALY: ITALIAN DOCUMENTARY ACADEMY AWARDS (established in 1955)
d) – In USA : PRINCE OF PRESTIGE ACADEMY AWARD Founded in 2010 Florida US – still in the same country as Oscars’.
e) – In INDIA, PRIYADARSHNI ACADEMY AWARDS (Nanik Rupani founded a unique institution, Priyadarshni Academy in 1985 )
f) -In SOUTH AFRICA , ZULU AFRICAN FILM ACADEMY AWARDS (ZAFAA Global Awards) edition in 2006.
g) -In CHINA, “CHINA ACADEMY AWARDS OF DOCUMENTARY FILM (CAADF); (The China Academy Awards for Documentary Film (CAADF) is one of the … First launched in 2011, CAADF is known as “The Oscars of China
h) – In JAPAN, they have “JAPANESE ACADEMY AWARDS/JAPANESE ACADEMY PRICE. Founded in 1978 Japan
i) -In HOLLAND, they have “TENT ACADEMY AWARDS” ROTTERDAM; (TENT. is a new municipal exhibition space in the center of Rotterdam, Holland, opened in 1999 and TENT ACADEMY AWARDS 2001 • Screening) Holland
j) – In USA, they have “ANNUAL FACET ACADEMY AWARDS OF INDIANA UNIVERSITY” (Founded in 1989) USA.
k) -In EUROPE, they have “EUROPEAN MUSEUM ACADEMY AWARDS”, (the Council of Europe. It was founded in 1977 by journalist, author Kenneth Hudson.) European Union.
l (THE ROYAL IRISH ACADEMY AWARDS was established under Charter in 1785,Ireland
With all the above local and international use of ACADEMY AWARDS, it is now glaring that it is generic and that the phrase “Academy Awards,” was registered without recourse to the future existence of other organizations bearing the phrase. It should be seen to have been registered in error, it should not be applied to disqualify any other name or names containing, academy awards, so long as there are other distinguishing features.”
While the begging question of what Oscars fears are do remain rife, it will be illuminate that she desists from pursuits that will define her as a repressive gigantic organization that’s out to muzzle perceived competitions in a world wide enough for innovations!