Emmanuel Ukudolo l Friday, May 5, 2023
LAGOS, Nigeria – More than one decade after making the popular film, Domitilla, celebrated movie director, Mr. Zeb Ejiro, often referred to as ‘Presido’ has regained ownership of the brand Domitilla, which opened the cinema routes for Nigerian home video productions.
This came about after the Federal Trademark Registry revoked all documents issued to actress Anne Njemanze in respect of brand ownership of the movie. The registry, a Commercial Law Department of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment gave the revocation order in a judgment delivered in a petition over ownership of the brand.
The star actress in the movie Anne Njemanze, had been in a long battle with veteran filmmaker, Zeb Ejiro, who actually directed the movie over the rightful ownership of Domitilla, shot in 1996, with a sequel in 1999.
Although the Ejiros shot the movie, Anne Njemanze has often been referred to as Domitilla, wherever she goes been the prominent face in the movie.
Domitilla, represents the first time a Nigerian film attempted to capture activities of sex workers in the streets of Lagos. Anne Njemanze acted with the likes of Sandra Achums, Ada Ameh(now late), Sam Arogundade(boss of Domitilla), Ejiro Benjamin, Dave Inibu Brown, Peter Brunor, Kate Effiong, Mevin Ejiro, Zino Ejiro, Enebeli Enebuwa, Chris Erakpotobor, now late, Emmanuel France(Domitilla’s father), Kate Henshaw, Maureen Ihua, Moji Danisa Jimegbe, Lakemfa Jones, Iyabo Lawani, Sonny MacDon, Sam Obiakeme, Francis Odega, St Micheal Ogbonna, Patience Oghre, Charles Okafor, Melissa Onoh, Basorge Tariah Jnr and Pepetua Irruh.
Peter Red Ejiro, now late is producer, brother to Zeb Ejiro, while Chris Amaechi Okobah was executive producer, Zeb Ejiro directed it. Sequel to this, Domitilla 2, was also produced and released in 1999 by Zeb Ejiro, while a remake has been released in April, 2023.
Years after the release of Domitilla 1 and 2, Njemanze reportedly trademarked the name “Domitilla and Device” on September 16, 2020, and later approached the trademark registry to register the name.
Delivering his judgment on the dispute, Mr Shefiu Adamu, the Registrar of the Trademark department who led two other members, revoked all documents issued to Njemanze.
In his words, “ The petitioner (Ejiro) has been using “Domitilla’’ for a long time, even the respondent acted in the film named “Domitilla’’ for the petitioner.
“The respondent/applicant had acted in a series of films for the petitioner, Section 22 of the Trademark Act is quite explicit. Therefore, the Registrar of the Trademark have the statutory power to correct any error in connection with the application of trademark.
“The application of the respondent (Njemanze) is hereby refused, the tribunal cancels any document that might have been issued to the applicant, they were all issued in error.
The applicant acted in bad faith, and with this, the petitioner’s claim is upheld.’’