Rite Foods’ counsel has prayed the Lagos Federal High Court of Hon. Justice A.L. Allagoa, to convict the Managing Director of the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) Mathieu Seguin for contempt of court, as he has failed in the previous suit against him to appear before the court, after many months before the interim injunction was set aside by Hon. Justice Aneke.
The proceeding which was presided upon today, October 27, by Hon. Justice Allagoa, had in court the legal counsels to Rite Foods, Barristers, Muyiwa Ogungbenro, Charles Bassey and Olukemi Owolabi; while those of the NBC’s MD consists of Oluseye Opasanya, SAN, Olabia Makanjuola and Isaac Ibikunle.
During the court proceedings, Rite Foods’ application through its legal counsel, Ogungbenro, seeks for committal of the alleged contemnor, Mathieu Seguin for disobeying the interim injunction to appear in court under Hon. Justice Aneke of the Federal High Court issued on February 9, 2021, which was later set aside after months of contempt.
He put forward that since the case has been transferred to Hon. Justice Allagoa’s court, there is a need for a hearing convicting the NBC’s MD on the premise that the alleged contemnor should have been punished before the contempt proceedings were set aside, taking into consideration the long period before the motion was discharged.
On his part, Oluseye Opasanya, NBC’s lawyer requested enough time to respond to the claim by Rite Foods that the motion for conviction of the contemnor should be continued under Hon. Justice Allagoa, as Hon. Justice Aneke cannot hear his own case which sets aside the interim injunction.
This is in accordance with the case of trademark infringement and passing-off of its Predator energy drink on the mark of Rite Foods’ Fearless Energy drinks, with the likely intent of confusing consumers to make the wrong choice.
In the application for committal, which was published in the ThisDay and Guardian Newspapers of April 6, 2021, the plaintiff, Rite Foods prayed the court to commit the contemnors to purge themselves of the contempt of court.
According to the application of committal in both national newspapers, the NBC and its MD are restrained from promoting or using any material for its Predator energy drink in a manner that infringes or passes off Rite Foods’ Fearless energy drinks.
The documents also state that NBC and its MD are in breach of the court order for failing to remove from the public domain, promotion materials already released including those released through Taaooma.
It further mentioned that NBC’s boss is responsible for the company’s breach of the court orders, as Rite Foods alleges that Seguin has the power to command its obedience.
On Form 48 of the Federal High Court, as published on Friday, March 19, 2021, in ThisDay and Guardian Newspapers, there was a notice of consequences of disobedience of the order of the court issued to the NBC’s MD and 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 drinks, until the interlocutory application for an injunction is determined.
In suit No: PHC/L/CS/92/2021, the plaintiff, Rite Foods Limited, alleged that NBC has infringed on its trademark over its Predator energy drink, with a lion insignia in resemblance to the mark on its Fearless energy drinks.
The alleged trademark infringement, according to Rite Foods, has damaged its goodwill and it is seeking relief which includes injunctions and damages for its loss.
And according to the provision of the Trade Marks Act, Cap T 13, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and the Trademark Regulations 1990, the alleged infringement is against the holder’s right of Rite Foods Limited, as the exclusive owner of the mark for identification of its products within the country.
However, investigation reveals that the Plaintiff, Rite Foods’ Fearless energy drinks, which consist of the Red Berry and Classic brands, were launched into the Nigerian market in June 2017 and has gained a wider market share before NBC’s Predator brand which made entrant in June 2020.
The case has been adjourned to November 15 for further hearing.