mi-Fone the FIRST African Mobile Devices brand has issued Legal letters to Chinese Smartphone giant Xiaomi and their African distributor objecting to their upcoming plans to distribute smartphones across Africa. The objection rests on the basis that the introduction of Xiaomi’s ‘Mi’ products on the continent is an infringement of trademark in a market where mi-Fone has a well-established presence via their ‘mi’ and ‘mi-Fone’ trade names.
Alpesh Patel, Founder and CEO of Mi-Fone, explains, “It is great that companies want to come into Africa and realise the potential of African smartphone growth, but it is our duty as a relatively small indigenous 100% African owned company to stand up for our rights as the first original registered owners of the “mi and mi-Fone “ names in Africa. I would have hoped that big companies like this would have done their due diligence before announcing their proposed entry into Africa“.
In order to protect itself against unfair competition, mi-Fone wishes to protect the established ‘mi’ and mi-Fone” brand names that exists across the African continent. “As the owners of the ‘mi’ and ‘mi-Fone’ brand in Africa, we will follow the rule of law and strongly object to any channel in Africa that distributes similar named and related products not endorsed by us as the rightful owners“ says Patel.
“Our ultimate concern is with the use of the name ‘mi’ which immediately creates an association in the minds of consumers,” says Patel. “While we welcome free and fair competition within the Mobile Device space in order to empower Africa as a whole, this is an infringement of registered trademarks so it is important we tackle this head-on.”
With Africa currently playing host to the fastest growing mobile market in the world, it is evident that the years of investment and innovation instilled by Africans, for Africa, through companies such as mi-Fone have gone a long way towards the empowerment and development of the continent.
mi-Fone was the first African Mobile Devices brand established in 2008 (Xiaomi incidentally was established in 2010) and boasts both African heritage as well as a strong brand reputation across the African market. mi-Fone products and services are now available across more than 15 African markets with their African HQ operating out of Nairobi, Kenya. “Over the last seven years mi-Fone has worked hard to nurture relationships with consumers and telco- networks across the continent. Ours is a Peoples Brand “ explains Patel.
In 2014 mi-Fone was awarded the Frost & Sullivan ‘Mobile Entrepreneurial Company of the Year’ award.
“For me this is more than a business concern, this is a social message calling for all African owned brands to stand up and fight for what they have worked so hard to build. mi-Fone has always been at the forefront of innovation and has been clearly recognised by various industry bodies for all the good work it has done in Africa to help empower our people- we are determined to continue this good work without any outside interference.” Patel concludes.
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