Stories from Africa Crown: The Day Louis Vuitton’s Logo was Stolen
As the Board of Miss Africa Crown (MAC) worked tirelessly to organize the event last year, a very interesting development slipped by without a single clue from any Board member except the Swede who was sitting in the organizing Committee. The MAC team entered the boat at Vikingline where the finals were scheduled without the Louis Vuitton (LV) bags which were supposed to be presents for the first three winners. Although the Board tried to enquire what may have happened, the Swede remained tight-lipped. In the end, the winners walked away without their presents.
What the Board did not know was that when the Swede went to purchase the bags at the LV outlet in Stockholm, the storekeeper declined to sell the bags to him. The Swede had informed the store keeper that the bags were destined for distribution to MAC winners. The refusal by the store to sell three bags to the Swede was because LV was in the process of filing a court case to sue MAC for violating its logo and although the Swede was made aware of this fact, he never informed the Board. It was after the event ended that real trouble started.
LV sent MAC a Legal Notice to the effect that it’s logo had been violated by MAC and that the company was preparing legal action against MAC. The company claimed that it’s logo had been used in MAC’s flyers without authority and that in the said flyers, the LV logo was used in a way that suggested that LV was sponsoring MAC while this was not the case. In a letter dated 16th October 2012, LV’s lawyer wrote that “It has come to the attention of Louis Vuitton that during marketing of “Miss Africa Crown” both in 2011 and 2012, you used Louis Vuitton’s logo without permission. According to Louis Vuitton, you have infringed on their logo”.
The letter then went on to detail that flyers emblazoned on the logo were pasted at the Central Station, concluding (among other accusations) by stating that building the logo had cost LV a lot of money and that its use in the manner stated amounted to “degenerating” the logo. The letter then requested all details about MAC events in 2011/2012 including all revenues realized, receipts and any other detail. The purpose was to enable the company to quantify profits which had been realized as a result of the violation in order to determine the amount MAC would have to pay in compensation.
During the period the logo was being used on the flyers, Board members questioned severally, both at meetings and in emails, the circumstances under which the so called sponsors were dealing with MAC but the Swede refused to explain, only saying that he had “talked” to the companies. When a Board member insisted on seeing contracts with “the sponsors”, the Swede began to accuse Board members of being “difficult to work with”.
When LV sent their Legal Notice to MAC demanding details, the matter was brought before the Board after which the Swede went underground. That was in October last year and by then, all monies from the event had been paid to the Swede before he refused to pay workers. The Board then organized three meetings to discuss the LV matter but the Swede refused to attend, declined to answer phone calls or respond to email. To date, the Board can report that the Swede does not know how the matter ended. Despite the seriousness of the matter, he totally ignored it. It is a long story that can only be told in bits. When he hijacked MAC this year, he was simply repeating the tactics he used in hijacking the LV logo. Today, he remains in the background while fronting his wife to fight the Board.
One crude technique the Swede uses to try and attract attention to events is to use fake sponsors on flyers. He believes that the more “sponsors” are lined up on flyers, the bigger the event looks and the more people will be fooled into booking, thinking that they may be missing something huge. For the MAC Board, these were dirty business tactics that were totally unacceptable and that were raised severally by Board members. The guy was somehow behaving like a father with Board members expected to play “the children” by accepting what the daddy says without question.
Stolen concept from London
In one of the flyers where LV’s logo was violated, “Viking” is listed as one of the sponsors while in reality, MAC was hiring a hall in Viking line and paying for Cabins. If there was any sponsorship from Viking, it was probably some ten Cabins the sea-liner was giving out for MAC’s workers as a matter of routine. There was no contract stating that Viking was sponsoring the event and the only reason why Viking was named on the flyer was to fool people.
In the same flyer featuring Viking above, there is a logo of a globe. This is a company that did not exist at all but here it was, sponsoring MAC and featured on a flyer. The globe photo was bought by the Swede at Shutterstock and that is how it became a “Company” overnight “with huge amounts of money” to sponsor an event of the MAC type. As Board members dug deep into their pockets to bank roll MAC, the public was made to believe that millions of kronazz were pouring into MAC from big sponsors across Sweden. At this point, it would be opportune to add yet another twist to the fake “Globe Company”.
The concept that the Swede presented to the Board was based on organizing many parties at different cities simultaneously and at the same time. The idea was that if an African boogie was romping in Stockholm on a Saturday on a specific date and time, the same Party would be taking place in Denmark, London, Paris, Singapore, Nairobi, Kabul etc. The official name of the Party was supposed be “Global Party” (that explains the logo) but things suddenly began to fall apart after a web site was constructed by the Swede for the company.
As the Media and Information Officer, my name and phone number was placed at the website without the Board’s knowledge. One day, I received a phone call from someone in London claiming that the idea behind the business was his and that he already had a business running on the same theme. The man proceeded to claim that the design of the site was exactly like his, the concept plagiarized and that everything associated with the Global Party was stolen from his website. Heavenly smoke!
To make the matter even worse, the man said that his Company was actually called “The Global Party”. When he provided his website here, I was shocked at the similarity. The guy gave us 24 hours to pull the site down or face legal action with damages. Surprised, I called the crook and gave him the London number. Within 30 minutes, he pulled down the site. At that time, the Board did not even know that the site had been constructed. He had been caught with pants down, trying to steal someone’s idea. From that day onwards, no Board member ever heard about our new “Global Party” and company. What could not be erased was the fake logo on the flyers and today, it is the only evidence about the ill-fated company concept.
Ritz and Mr. Bling as sponsors?
Still on the same flyer, there is another logo of “The Ritz Society” listed as one of the sponsors. This too was just another stock photo. Although it was presented as a Company, Ritz was actually the entertainment wing of the Africa Monetary Fund (AMF) but it had no structure of its own or money to sponsor anything. AMF went bankrupt after the Swede misappropriated funds that he was to pay a Göteborg-based woman lawyer who was representing AMF in a case in which the Swede had initiated a business deal with a Stockholm restaurant without a contract, creating a loss of SEK 86.000 to AMF. This is yet another long story that will have to wait for now.
Another sponsor listed on the flyer is “Mr Bling” which never contributed anything to any MAC event. Once again, the Board demanded a contract to try and understand how Mr. Bling was sponsoring MAC but the Swede went quite. Every time the issue of sponsorship was raised, the Swede became hostile. The Swede likes and enjoys taking unilateral decisions on key issues and treating his mates as spectators whose job is to rubber stamp his decisions. Within the Board, his undemocratic methods led to constant clashes with Board members who refused to accept things that did not make sense. In fact, the only serous sponsor which can be mentioned and which was introduced to the group by a Board member was Ethiopian Airlines which has been contributing a ticket to Africa for the winner.
There is no doubt that the Swede has a lot of business ideas. His problem is that many of his ideas are castles in the air and anybody who tries to point this out in order to shape these ideas becomes an enemy. In the current flyers he circulates online after hijacking MAC, majority of the so called sponsors are Shutterstock photos converted into huge companies.
Stories about Africa Crown are just beginning to be told. These stories are important for the African community to prevent its members from being taken for a ride by a Swedish conman posing as a serious businessman. At the moment, he has teamed up with his wife to play with the fragile ambitions of young African girls who have allegedly been promised life in a palace, lucrative modelling contracts with make-believe companies, catwalks in London and other “goodies” after they have been taken through a fake Africa Crown using a stolen Trademark.
Media and Information Desk
Miss Africa Crown