About seventy local and foreign employees of NICOM Distillery will be out of work for the next few months following the closure of the company by the Commercial Court due to the company’s inability to settle US$500,000 in damages for faking the CALAO product originally owned by Manufacturer Ivoirienne de Boissons (BIM), based in La Cote d’ Ivoire.
At NICOM’s Lynch Street compound yesterday, the area was completely sealed with a closure order posted by court officers at the entrance of the building housing the company.
The document said NICOM is under the court’s jurisdiction.
Despite the court action, only private security guards hired by NICOM to provide protection to its premises were seen at the entrance of the compound although they did not allow people to enter the premises.
One of the guards who spoke on condition of confidentiality told the Daily Observer that the compound was shut down on yesterday, at the time the company was producing CALAO products, which are at the center of the lawsuit against the company.
The Sherman and Sherman Law Firm filed the lawsuit against NICOM on behalf of the Ivoirian Company, which has no branch in the country but operates on a registered Liberian trademark number #LR/M/2016/000. It asked the court to attach NICOM properties to the suit which the court did by shutting down NICOM on Tuesday.
The Law Firm alleged that their client obtained the trademark from the Liberia Intellectual Property Office (LIPO) to be the sole producer and distributor of CALAO drinks on the local market, but, NICOM without any legal right, obtained another trademark with number #LR/M/2015/00239 from LIPO to produce and distribute the same CALAO products on the market, an action for which they are claiming US$500,000 in damages.
The Ivoirian company also prayed the court to compel NICOM Distillery to recall from the market all fake CALAO products, which the company claimed NICOM had produced and distributed on the Liberian market.
But LIPO claimed that NICOM provided a Power-of-Attorney, a legal document that authorizes an individual or company to use the property of another, adding that it was based on the document that they awarded the same trademark to NICOM to be the only producer and distributor of
CALAO products on the local market.
However, the Ivoirian company also argued that they hold an international registered trademark certificate which gives them the right to be the only company to produce and distribute CALAO products in Africa and some parts of the world, since 1997.
“We have been renewing our certificate for CALAO products in accordance with the Africa Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) protocol and requirements,” BIM claimed in their suit.