Chicken Slice founder and chief executive officer Tawanda Mutyebere has accused his competitors the Simbisa Brands-owned Chicken Inn of bullying and of trying to stop his business empire from using red and yellow colours on its products.
He said Chicken Inn also wants Chicken Slice to stop using the word “Luv” in their payoff line.
This follows a three-year legal battle between the two fast-food companies, in which Chicken Inn, a subsidiary of Simbisa Brands, filed an application at the High Court in 2019 seeking an interdict against Chicken Slice using what it termed its trademarks.
Chicken Inn argued that the latter had used “Luv” in its burger and grill logo.
The company also argued it had always used “Luv Dat Chicken” since 1987 before Chicken Slice started using “I Luv it” on its burger boxes.
High Court judge Justice Sylvia Chirawu-Mugomba last month dismissed the application by Chicken Inn.
“There was no case. The idea here is about bullying,” Mutyebere told NewsDay yesterday.
“Where on earth would one be not allowed to use the word luv? Love is not a coined word, it’s generic — whether you use the word love or luv. The word Luv is actually in the Oxford dictionary and, therefore, you cannot say this is my word that I am using.”
He described the attempts by Chicken Inn to stop his company from using the red and yellow colours as “ridiculous”.
“Where on earth can one say red or yellow is my colour? That’s ridiculous. You cannot register a colour. In Zimbabwe, if they do not want to use the colour red, it then means everyone using the colour red must stop using the colour right from the national flag of Zimbabwe,” he charged.
Mutyebere said Chicken Inn had wasted his company’s resources fighting “unnecessary” legal battles.
He described this as “tricks of a bully”.
“They are just there to try and frustrate us, but we will never be frustrated with such kind of poor attacks. You cannot feed Zimbabwe by yourself.”
Contacted for comment, Simbisa Brands managing director Warren Meares said they do not consider Chicken Slice as competitors.
“We have got no qualms or animosity with Mr Mutyebere in any way. If anything, concerning Mr Mutyebere — and you are someone on the street, wherever we go, he follows. We went to Braeside, he followed, we went to Walk Tall West End, he followed, Kadoma he followed, we went to Gweru and he followed, and we were in Bulawayo he followed,” Meares said.”
“When I see him, I stop and have a chat. I don’t have any qualms with him. If anything, I love the fact that he can become successful, and competition is good. I see KFC (American global chicken fast-food store, with outlets in Zimbabwe) more as competition than Chicken Slice. KFC is an international brand. It is a big name, it is a strong name, which is real competition. Chicken Slice is our little brother who is copying us.”