Nigerian High Court Hears Crypto Case, Orders Compensation to Plaintiff

High Court in Nigeria at present is hearing a crypto trademark infringement case which has been filed by Enaira Payments Solution for stopping the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to use the name “e-naira” for the future Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) project. While accepting the plea of the plaintiff, Court has directed CBN to compensate the plaintiff and granted approval to CBN to proceed with the project with the same name as “e-naira” in the national interest.

It is trite law, acceptable internationally, that when a trademark infringement is proven, then the infringer is stopped from using the trademark. Not only the infringer is stopped but also the infringer is asked to compensate the person owning trademark. Principally, a trademark is protected under the copyright laws which are almost the same throughout the world.

Apparently, a trademark infringement case was also came up for hearing before a High Court of Nigeria. It was a case filed by Nigerian crypto firm “Enaira Payments Solution (EPS)” and was instituted against Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). In this trademark infringement suit, plaintiff sought relief against CBN which, according to the plaintiff, was in breach of firm’s registered trademark. The plaintiff claimed that CBN is currently working on project involving development of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). However, the future CBDC project of CBN has been named as “e-naira” which is identical to the first name of the plaintiff i.e. “Enaira”.

Counsels for EPS argued before the Court that CBN’s CBDC project would pose a grave threat to the EPS’s business. In any case, the trademark titled “Enaira” is the property of EPS and therefore CBN should be stopped from using “e-naira”, prayed the plaintiff. The counsels argued further that they had sent legal notices to CBN informing it to refrain from using the name “e-naira” but CBN refused. Instead, CBN is proceeding with the project and thus committing a willful and deliberate infringement of the trademark.

In the meantime, when CBN received Court’s notice, it immediately announcement postponement of the launch of CBDC namely “e-naira”. It was an easy guess for majority of people who instantly became aware that deferment has been done because of the lawsuit.

When both parties appeared before the Court, Mr. Justice, Taiwo Abayomi Taiwo, passed an order. In the order the Honorable Judge accepted the allegation that CBN was infringing the trademark belonging to the plaintiff. The Court then ordered CBN to compensate the plaintiff reasonably against infringement of the trademark. In addition, Court allowed CBN to proceed with CBDC with the name “e-naira” subject to reasonable compensation being accepted by the plaintiff. The case was then adjourned for 11th October, 2021. On 11th October Court will ask whether plaintiff has been compensated and whether such compensation has been agreed to by the plaintiff.

If the plaintiff doesn’t wish to avail compensation and wants to stop CBN from using trademark, then the matter will proceed further.