Wed. Jan 19th, 2022

Contempt: Court Hears Rite Foods, NBC Applications On Trademark Infringement Nov. 15

Contempt: Court Hears Rite Foods, NBC Applications On Trademark Infringement Nov. 15

A Lagos Federal High Court, today fixed November 15, to hear Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) application, seeking to quash contempt and committal to prison, (forms 48 and 49) applications, filed against it’s Managing Director,  Mattieu Seguin, by the Rite Foods Limited, over alleged trademark infringement.

Rite Foods through its lawyer, Muyiwa had dragged NBC and it’s Managing Director, Mr. Seguine, before the court in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/528/2021,for allegedly ‘passing off’ it’s Fearless energy drink logo. 
 Rite Foods had on February 9, 2021, through an Exparte application marked  FHC/L/CS/92/2021, asked the court for an order restraining NBC from further promoting its Predator Energy drink in the Nigerian market, the application which was granted by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke.

While the Expart Order subsisting and due to NBC alleged failure to comply with order, Rite Foods Limited, filed both Form 48 and 49 against NBC and it’s Managing Director, Mr. Seguine.

However, NBC counsel, Mr. Opasanya (SAN) filed application challenging the Exparte order, and a motion to quash the the proceedings.

At the resumed proceedings today,  NBC’s Managing Director, Mr. Sequin, the alleged contemnor, Mr. Oluseye  Opasanya (SAN), told the court that he has an application dated October 18 and filed on October 21, 2021, seeking to quash the contempt against his client.Opasanya (SAN) also informed the court that Justice Aneke had discharged the Exparte order made against his client on September 17, 2021.

He added that he expect the counsel to the applicant, Rite Foods Limited, to be upright and end the litigation.

Opasanya (SAN), prayed the court to set aside or dismiss the entire suit. He said; “the most appropriate thing is that since the contempt suit has been discharged is to dismiss the entire suit”.

He also asked the court for a short adjoumment to enable him study responses filed to his client’s applications.

Responding, Counsel to the Rite Foods Limited’s, Mr. Ogungbenro, while confirmed that Justice Aneke had discharged the Exparte order, however, told the court that the business of the day was hearing of all processes in the suit.

He also told the court that what his client has in the other suit is not a Contempt proceedings but main substantive suit.

Ogungbenro however, opposed to the adjoumment request of NBC’s Managing Director’s counsel. He told the court that he received Seguin’s processes on Friday and he responded on Monday. 

He consequently asked the court to refused the adjoumment request.

Also, counsel to NBC, Mr. M. Mordy, also told the court that he as an application seeking to quash the Rite Foods’ application. Adding that he also need time to respond to the counter filed by the Rite Foods Limited.

However, the presiding judge, Justice Allagoa, conceded to NBC’s request for adjoumment and adjourned the matter till November 15, for hearing of all applications.

The contempt proceeding is an offshoot of a claim filed by Rite Foods alleging passing-off by NBC of its Fearless energy drinks.

In the claim, which is before Hon. Justice Aneke, Rite Foods obtained interim injunctions against NBC to stop it from advertising or promoting its Predator energy drink in a manner that is capable of infringing on its Fearless energy drinks. Rite Foods alleges that NBC and its Managing Director, Mathieu Seguin disobeyed the interim order.

By the contempt proceedings, Rite Foods is seeking orders committing NBC’s managing director to prison until the company obeys the injunctions.

It would be recalled that the passing-off case came to light sometime in March 2021 in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/92/2021 at the Federal High Court, Lagos. Form 48 was published on Friday, March 19, 2021, in ThisDay and Guardian Newspapers. Rite Foods alleges that NBC has infringed on its trademark with its Predator energy drink, which has adopted a lion head in resemblance to the mark on its Fearless energy drinks brand.

Rite Foods’ claims that it has been using and trading with the Lion image since 2017, three years before the NBC’s Predator came into the market in 2020.

The report also contains notice of consequences of disobedience of court order issued to NBC’s Managing Director and an ex parte order restraining the company from promoting or using any sales promotion material for its Predator energy drink in a manner that infringes or passes off or that is capable of infringing or passing off the plaintiff’s Fearless energy drink until the interlocutory application for injunction is determined.