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Rite Foods Appeals Dismisal of Contempt Suit Against NBC’s MD, As Hearing Of Passing-Off Suit Fixed For Jan. 12

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Rite Foods has appealed the ruling of a Lagos Federal High Court, which dismissed the contempt proceedings suit filed against Mr. Mathieu Seguin, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC).

Justice Lewis Allagoa who presided over the court, today, set aside the decision of Justice Tijjani Ringim, which cited the managing director for contempt, having alleged disobeyed his order.

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

Justice Allagoa in his ruling upheld the preliminary objection filed to the contempt application by the NBC and it’s managing director and consequently set aside the contempt proceeding. However, Rite Foods said it has appealed the ruling.

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 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 process 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.

Meanwhile, Justice Peter Odo Lifu has fixed January 12, 2022, for hearing of Rite Foods’ trademark infringement against NBC

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