Two companies are currently embroiled in a fight over the ownership and rights to Chinese herbal medicine franchise in Uganda.
Fohoway Uganda Health Products Company Limited says whereas they are the authorized franchise owner and distributors of Fohow Group Company Limited products in Uganda, another company, Fohow International Uganda Limited is claiming ownership of the franchise.
According to Geoffrey Joloba fights erupted when Fohow Uganda that used to own the Chinese company had their contract cancelled over mismanagement and embezzlement of funds.
Consequently, according to four of the initial five directors for Fohow Uganda formed Fohoway and consequently was given permission to deal in the products of Fohow Group Company Limited, a Chinese group operating in many countries around the world.
“Over the weekend, officials from URSB and police raided our company and products worth shs1.5 billion were seized and taken. We have information indicating that the other company(Fohow Uganda) is behind these acts,”Joloba said.
According to Joloba, during the raid in which some of their staff were assaulted and phones confiscated, a Uganda Registration Services Bureau labelled vehicle together with other police vehicles cordoned off their offices near Jinja road police station before confiscating their products and laptops.
The officials from the company have also accused police of being used to raid their offices despite having all the required documents.
Consequently, the company has written to the Inspector General of Police to report one police officer whom they accused of being used to carry out the operation.
“On September 17, 2021, ASP Alex Tumuhairwe attached to Jinja road police and URSB raided our client’s business premises in Kololo on allegations that they were dealing in counterfeit products. No information was availed to our client to show evidence of any case reported relating to the business dealing or even evidence from UNBS and URSB that their products are counterfeit,” Fohoway’s lawyers said in a letter to the police chief but also copied to the Police Professional Standards Unit.
“No search warrant and search certificate were issued and signed by the police and our client’s representatives before and after the raid respectively. Our client was therefore not given an inventory of items collected by ASP Alex Tumuhairwe and team.”
In the complaint, the company said such a “rash, negligent and wanton” act paints a bad picture to investors in the country and should be condemned.
When contacted for a comment on the matter, officials from Fohow insisted that they are the rightful owners of the franchise of the Chinese company.
“Fohoway duplicated Fohow International Company products but is not a stranger but separated from this company to make their own products. Even the products they sell are substandard,” said George Mulumba Kenneth, the chief nutritionist for Fohow.
He insisted that theirs is the authorised company to have rights for Fohow International Company, noting that they have more than 15 branches countrywide and in all East African countries apart from Rwanda.
“We prepare our products using nanotechnology and preserving the essence of nature and this takes a lot of money, scientists and expertise. The other company duplicated all that.
“Our company realized there is someone who formerly was part of us before being terminated duplicating our products. We filed a case with URSB and police who made an investigation leading to the operation.”
Contacted for a comment, Denis Nabende, the senior Public Relations and Corporate Affairs Officer for Uganda Registration Services Bureau said they had received a complaint from Fohow International in regards trademark infringement by illegal sale of medicine and nutritional supplements by Fohoway Uganda Health Products Company Ltd.
“The same was forwarded to URSB Enforcement Unit for action. On 2nd August 2021, we again received a complaint letter from Fohow International (U) Ltd addressed to the Registrar General reporting the case of trademark infringement on his registered trademarks. A casefile was opened up vide URSB SD 02/03/08/2021 and investigations started. Preliminary investigations revealed that Fohow International (U) Limited was the registered proprietor for the trademarks in issue both in Uganda and in China and have the trademark certificates,”Nabende said.
The URSB spokesperson said their unit sought clearance from the Kampala Metropolitan Police commander, Regional Police Commander for KMP East and Jinja road DPC respectively for enforcement of the operation which consequently happened on September 17.
On September, 17, 2021, ASP Tumuhairwe Alex together with seven other officers from Jinja Road Police Station and a scenes of crime officer proceeded to UNICALO House, in Kololo, carried out a search and recovered several items with suspected infringing marks belonging to Fohow International (U) Limited. All the recovered items were properly documented and a search certificate was made and signed by four of their staffs. The recovered items are in custody of URSB Enforcement Unit.”