Fashion Forum Ghana was held on the 14th of March 2016, at the National Theatre within the Ghana Cultural Day event. The event focused on the protection of the use of ‘Ghana’ as a collective mark and how members of the fashion industry are unintentionally misusing the name ‘Ghana’ in their business identities.
Speakers on the day were Yvonne Ntiamoah, head of fashion at Radford University college, Tetteh Adzedu the chairman of the Ghana Association Of Fashion Designers (GAFD) and lastly Sarah Norkor Anku, the State Attorney at the registrars Office. It was a small setting and well attended event, hosted by Hillary Sarah Andoh.
In review, the event was very informative, however, with the time limitation, information might have flown over the heads of most people who were new to the topic, especially on the talks of trademark, business registration and patenting.
In fact most people in the fashion, entertainment or business world as a whole should be handed a mini document that would simply break the three components. Most people assume after a business name is registered that they have the legal ownership of the name which is false.
The other pressing issue was the ability to use the name ‘Ghana’ as mark in their business identity. Again great information but it also seems most people confused the information given on the day. For those who feared they would need to change their ‘xxx Ghana ltd’ business name or their www.ghanaxxxx.com name, here is some elaboration in that field.
Having a country as a ‘mark’ in this case as a trademark is where the fault is at. Owning a trademark prevents others from legally using the name and this is where the contradiction of using a national word appears. As far as a registered business name is concerned, that will apply to the laws of which country you are in. If your registered business name has already been created legally and approved by the government of which they recognize your name as such, then the government might actually be liable to your company depending on the clauses in your registration pack as business registration is a mutual agreement between an individual and the government itself.
It is adviseable to register an alternative name without Ghana. For example if you wish to organize fashion shows under the title ‘Ghana Fantastic Shows’, it might be best to register the business name ‘Fantastic Events Ltd’. And then execute projects under the alternatives that suits you. Ie. Charter House ltd organizes Ghana Music Awards.
As far as a registered webname is concerned which was not discussed, That is out of the jurisdiction of the Ghana government as ‘.com’ is owned by foreign entities. The most that can be done if Ghana or gh is in your webname is your content might be banned from Ghana at most, just as how parts the web is banned in China. However the removal of a name on the web is nothing any government party can execute unless it goes through the normal process of reporting illegal content on the basis of cyber crime. Other wise there will be a lot of taking down of sites by African and European governments.
Overall, it was great to see Fashion Forum Ghana get on it’s feet as it had been in the planning for a few years now. There are definitely more forums needed to support business development in Ghana, especially in the fields of fashion.