Reprieve for NBC’s MD on Contempt Charges Appealed, as Rite Foods’ Fearless Copyright Case V NBC Predator Continues

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The lawsuit against the Managing Director of Nigerian Bottling Company, Mr. Mathieu Seguin, on contempt of court and possible committal, has been set aside by Justice A.L Allagoa of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, but his ruling on the case has been appealed by Rite Foods.

The legal proceedings which was the offshoot of the application filed by Rite Foods against NBC’s Managing Director on alleged contempt have been in court after the initial ruling setting it aside by Justice Aneke of the Federal High Court in Lagos on September 27.

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During the court, December 1 proceedings on whether to quash the case against NBC’s Mathieu Seguin, Justice A.L Allagoa in his ruling, set aside the case, based on the premise that an earlier judgment on it has been passed by Justice Aneke.

The lawsuit saw the legal counsels of Rite Foods, Barristers Charles Bassey, Out Ukoyen, and Olukemi Owolabi, with their counterparts representing the NBC’s MD, comprising Oluseye Opasanya, SAN, Olabia Makanjuola, and Isaac Ibikunle.

The case which has lingered till now was based on the argument that the NBC’s MD allegedly disobeyed court orders many months before the case against him was quashed by Hon. Justice Aneke, as the contemnor should have been punished before then.

Counsel to the plaintiff based their points on the fact that the alleged case had been in court for a long period, from February to September, before it was set aside, and that Justice Allagoa should disregard the judgement of Justice Aneke in his previous ruling.

On their part, counsels to the alleged contemnor put forward that since the case of contempt has been overruled by Justice Aneke, the judgement should be maintained, with references to judicial precedents of cases decided by other courts of competent jurisdiction.

The contempt case was a continuation of the case between Rite Foods and NBC on trademark infringement and the passing-off of its Predator energy drink on the mark of Rite Foods’ Fearless Energy drinks, as well as the disobedient of court orders by NBC’s MD.

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 contemnor of contempt of court.

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

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