Can You Sue Coca Cola for Using Your Name?

Back Ground of the Law

In these days, it is in our usual venture to see many Ethiopian names on the bottles of Coca Cola thanks to the fanciful marketing strategy of Coca Cola Company. Coca Cola used this strategy to promote its product or I can say to instigate its customers, hence each name affixed on each bottle is believed to have a power to call an individual, whose name is affixed thereon, to the market. As it is described in some Medias, the company has used around 200 names, which are familiar to Ethiopia, to adopt this marketing campaign.

Despite of my full appreciation of this marketing strategy, I tend to see the act of the company in the eyes of the law just to lay down some legal remarks. The theme of my discussion will focus on the dictation of the law towards "The Right to Own Name and The Right to Use Name". The specific law that deals with the issue we have at hand is our Civil Code which is fully titled as Civil Code of The Empire of Ethiopia Proclamation No. 165 of 1960. It is the first section of the Code that deals with the attribution of personality with specific provisions vested to regulate issues embarking from the birth and/or conception until the death of a natural person. Under this section, the law has laid a specific chapter that deals with names of a natural person pertaining to the acquisition and usage of a name.

When we tend to the first point of our discussion, i.e. "the right to own name", we will find out sub-Article 1 of Article 32 of the Civil Code which puts the principle towards the right of a natural person to "own name" by stating as follows;

"Every individual has a family name, one or more first name and a patronymic."  

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