COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli addresses journalists at his Tom Mboya Labour College office in Kisumu after holding a consultative meeting with a section of health workers leaders on February 6, 2021. [Photo/Tonny Omondi
COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli addresses journalists at his Tom Mboya Labour College office in Kisumu after holding a consultative meeting with a section of health workers leaders on February 6, 2021. [Photo/Tonny Omondi

Long-serving Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary-General Francis Atwoli has never shied away from expressing himself, and over the years he has come to be associated with various catchphrases, such as Shenzi! and Alaa!.

His animated speeches are often a goldmine for content creators. Most recently, Alaa! became a viral sensation after he exclaimed hilariously during an appearance on Citizen TV’s Wednesday night talk-show Jeff Koinange Live.

It has emerged that the trade unionist is keen on securing the phrase as his own as he applied for a trademark for Alaa, Alaaa and Alaaaa with the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (Kipi) in July.

Alaa! inspired countless memes and merchandise. The audio was even sampled in hit Gengetone songs including Alaa! by Dantez254, Rekles, Trio Mio, Odi wa Murang’a and VDJ Jones.

You can also get the words Alaa! in different designs on various t-shirts and hoodies being sold online.

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As revealed by the latest Kipi journal, Atwoli is keen on retaining exclusive use of the words in clothing, headgear and footwear. Anyone who might wish to challenge Atwoli’s bid to license the words to his name has until December 29 to file their opposition.

Local opponents will have to part with a Ksh5,000 fee while foreign opponents will have to pay $250 (Ksh27,725). The representations as presented by Atwoli can be viewed at Kipi’s Kabarsiran Avenue office in Lavington, Nairobi.

A trade mark is a symbol, word, or words legally registered or established by use as representing a company or product. The trademark owner can be an individual, business organization, or any legal entity.

A trademark identifies the brand owner of a particular product or service and can be used by others under licensing agreements – meaning that if Atwoli’s application is successful, you will need his permission or to pay him to be able to use the words in branding.

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