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<strong>Zeb Ejiro Wins Copyright Battle Over ‘Domitilla’</strong>

Zeb Ejiro Wins Copyright Battle Over ‘Domitilla’ 

‘Domitilla’ is the title of a 1996 film directed by Zeb Ejiro that stars Njemanze as the main character.

By Omotayo Olutekunbi

The Trademark Tribunal in Abuja has invalidated Annie Njemanze’s trademark registration and application for ‘Domitilla’.

According to the judgment, delivered by Chief Registrar Shafiu Adamu Yauri, all documents provided to her were done by mistake.

This legal dispute began from a quarrel between renowned director Zeb Ejiro and actress Anne Njemanze about ownership of the Domitilla trademark.

The film, which starred seasoned actors Sandra Achums, Ada Ameh, and Kate Henshaw, depicts the story of a young lady trying to make ends meet as a Lagos prostitute.

Njemanze apparently trademarked the names Domitilla and Device in September 2020, years after the debut of Domitilla and its successor. Ejiro’s legal team opposed the registration, claiming that the trademark had been in use since 1996 and belonged under class 41 of the Nigerian Register of Trademarks.

They further claimed that Njemanze was aware of Ejiro’s earlier and continuing usage of the name since 1996 since she had acted in both Domitilla and Domitilla 2 and was compensated for her services.

The court ruled, “The Petitioner owns the statutorily protected copyright of the film scripts of Domitilla and Domitilla 2, which were handed to the applicant in the course of her engagement as an actress in 1996 and 1999 respectively.

“Since the respective release of the films in 1996 and 1999, the films have continuously been in the market, first in video Cassettes; later in Compact Discs and now majorly as internet downloads all under the proprietary name of the Petitioner.

“The applicant has no goodwill and reputation in the word, “Domitilla”, separate from her role in the films Domitilla and Domitilla 2, which are intellectual properties of the Petitioner.

“The Petitioner has continuously used Domitilla as a created film character and as the title of his films, “Domitilla” and “Domitilla 2” since 1996 till date, thereby building strong goodwill and widespread reputation in the word.”

The film’s remake is presently playing in theaters around the country.

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