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Saru owns Springbok emblem: legal firm

23rd October 2008

By: Sapa

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The SA Rugby Union (Saru) owns the Springbok emblem and not the government, an intellectual property legal firm said on Wednesday.

"We have checked with the Register of Trademarks, and Saru is the current owner of the trademark," said Owen Dean, partner at Spoor & Fisher.

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Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile earlier told Parliament's sports portfolio committee that SA Rugby owed the government royalties for the use of the Springbok emblem.

He contended that his department owned the emblem.

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Stofile maintained SA Rugby had been using the emblem illegally as they had neglected to renew its registration.

Spoor and Fisher disputed this.

"The SA Rugby Football Union (Sarfu) registered the trademark in 1996. Sarfu is now defunct, but one of the two bodies it spawned, Saru and SA Rugby (Pty) Ltd, owns the trademark. We cannot determine which one it is. This trademark was renewed in 2005, and is valid until 2016."

Accordingly, said Dean, he could not see what rights the government had to claim the Springbok emblem as its own.

"... prima facie evidence supports Saru's contention that the Springbok emblem belongs to it."

Saru CEO Johan Prinsloo has also disputed Stofile's assertions.

"We look forward to engaging with the minister on this issue on a face-to-face basis at his earliest convenience," Prinsloo said on Tuesday.

The Springbok emblem has made news headlines more than once in the past weeks.

In the first instance, sports committee chair Butana Komphela suggested the emblem should be abolished, saying it divided the nation.

The African National Congress, however, said it wanted the Springbok to stay.

Last week, Springbok player Luke Watson said he wanted to vomit on his Springbok jersey because he believed it represented a lack of transformation.

His statement sparked rumours of senior Springbok players planning to boycott their upcoming European tour if he was part of the team.

 


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