The atmosphere in the court room was charged up, as heated argument ensued between counsel to Rite Foods, Muyiwa Ogungbenro and that of Nigerian Bottling Company’s managing director, Dr Khrushchev Ekwueme, on the way forward as the legal tussle on NBC‘s alleged infringement Rite Foods’ “Fearless” energy drinks continues.
The contempt proceedings brought by Rite Foods against the NBC and its Managing Director, Mathieu Seguin, came up for the second time before Hon. Justice Allagoa of the Federal High Court in Lagos, on Wednesday, September 22, 2021.
As the applications for the extension of the time of filing responses to NBC and its Managing Director was moved, the court granted the request and subsequently adjourned the case to October 27, 2021, for further hearing.
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 of 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.