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Rite Foods appeals against contempt decision on NBC MD

By Ngozi Egenuka
07 December 2021   |   3:53 am
Rite Foods has appealed against the ruling of Justice A.L Allagoa of the Federal High Court, Lagos, which set aside the alleged contempt case against the Managing Director of the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), Mathieu Seguin.

Rite Foods has appealed against the ruling of Justice A.L Allagoa of the Federal High Court, Lagos, which set aside the alleged contempt case against the Managing Director of the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), Mathieu Seguin.

Justice Allagoa in his ruling set aside the contempt proceeding on the ground that Justice Aneke had earlier passed judgment on it.

During the proceedings at the court, counsel to Rite Foods, Muyiwa Ogungbenro and that of the defendant, Oluseye Opasanya (SAN), had argued for and against the legal implication on why the contemnor should not be punished according to the law on committal.

Counsel to the claimant had argued that the alleged contemnor had been in contempt of court for a long period, from February to September, before it was set aside by Justice Aneke and therefore urged Justice Allagoa to disregard the judgement of Justice Aneke.

But the judge refused as he still set aside the contempt proceeding, prompting the claimant to immediately appeal the decision.

The contempt proceeding was 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.

The claimant alleges that NBC and its Managing Director, Mathieu Seguin disobeyed the interim order.

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

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.

The claimant 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.

It claims that it has been using and trading with the lion image since 2017, three years before 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 claimant’s Fearless energy drink until the interlocutory application for injunction is determined.

The case on the alleged trademark infringement continues and has been fixed for January 12, 2022, for further hearing.