Kenyans fight UK firm's trademark bid

A BRITISH company is at the centre of a row over its bid to trademark "kikoy" - an Anglicised spelling of a traditional Kenyan wrap popular with tourists.

A kikoi is a rectangular piece of cloth, woven from brightly coloured cotton, that used to be worn by fishermen along Kenya's Indian Ocean coast. Kikois are now very fashionable and have been turned into bags, tablecloths and curtains. They are sold to tourists at high prices.

The Kikoy Company UK Ltd applied in August to register the word "kikoy" - different by one letter from the original spelling - as a British trademark. "The move will lock out [Kenyan] exporters from the British market, costing the country millions of shillings and jobs," James Otieno Odek, head of Kenya's Industrial Property Institute, said.

A group of Kenyan exporters have teamed up with the Traidcraft Exchange, a fair trade organisation, to oppose the application in London this week.

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