Energy drink war: Court rules on contempt between NBC, Rite foods Dec1

Ogunsakin Mustapha
5 Min Read

A Federal High Court, Lagos on Monday fixed December 1, 2021 to deliver its ruling on a contempt proceedings filed by Rite Foods against the Managing Director of Nigerian Bottling Company(NBC), Mathieu Seguin over alleged trademark infringement.

Earlier, NBC had filed an application before the court seeking to dismiss the contempt application against Seguin.

The trial judge, Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa fixed December 1, 2021 for ruling on the application after listening to the argument and submissions of counsel to parties in the suit.

At the resumed proceedings, counsel to NBC’ MD, Mr. Oluseye Opasanya (SAN),  informed the court that he filed motion on notice dated October 18 supported with seven paragraph affidavit together with one exhibit. Opesanya said that he brought a motion to strike out the suit on a number of reasons.

Earlier, cousel to the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), Ngo Matins Okonma told court that he filed an application dated October 15, 2021 and a motion on notice in respect of the application to regularise the application dated November 11.

In his motion on notice, he prayed for the order of court to set aside the committal proceeding in its entirety including all processes used by plaintiff in the proceedings

Opesanya and Okonma argued that the contempt  order has been discharged.

“The order upon which committal proceedings was premised on has been discharged, set aside by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke on  September 27, 2021.

NBC prayed the court to dismiss contempt suit and award punitive costs against Rite Foods if it finds no basis for the contempt proceedings. The senior lawyer therefore urged the court to grant their application and dismisse the case.

However, in his response, the plaintiff counsel, Mr. Muyiwa  Ogungbenro told court that he filed counter affidavit sworn to by Francis Omoniyi, dated October 21,2021 and a written address to support their case.

He prayed the court to dismiss all application filed to set aside the contempt proceedings.

After listening to the argument and submissions of the parties, Justice Lweis-Allagoa adjourned ruling to Dec 1, 2021.

It could be recalled that on September 27, 2021  Justice Aneke upheld the objection filed by NBC’s counsel, suspending further hearing of Rite Foods’ case and discharged the ex-parte order granted Rite Foods against NBC and its privies.

The court also refused Rite Foods’ motion for interlocutory injunction seeking to prevent NBC from marketing or distributing Predator Energy drink in Nigeria.

Although the court agreed with the plaintiff that the instant suit is not an abuse of court process, but held that “to avoid confusion, this court will cease from further hearing of this suit to allow other suits go on. I, therefore, discharge the order made by me to allow the instant suit go on.”

When the matter came up for hearing before Justice Lewis-Allagoa, Mr. Oluseye Opasanya (SAN) and Mr. Mark Mordi, counsel to NBC and its Managing Director informed the court that since Rite Foods’ Counsel had failed to withdraw the contempt suit, they had no option than to file a formal motion to have the contempt suit dismissed with substantial costs against Rite Foods.

Opasanya 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. He reiterated that Justice Aneke had discharged the exparte order made against his client on September 17, 2021.

Opasanya (SAN), prayed the court to set aside or dismiss the entire suit.

The NBC said that there has been no trademark violation or passing off with its Predator Energy drink and maintains that the  Predator brand logo had been in existence and in use in many markets even prior to the launch of Fearless by Rite Foods in the Nigerian market.

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