Lawyers representing Manufacture Ivoirinne de Boissons (MIB), a company based in La Cote d’ Ivoire, has filed to the Commercial Court at the Temple of Justice a lawsuit for damages against NICOM Distillery, a leading producer and distributor of alcoholic beverages in Liberia, asking for
US$500,000 for allegedly using its registered trademark to produce CALAO gin on the local market.
The Sherman and Sherman Law Firm filed the action, claiming that the firm was not instructed by Manufacture Ivoirinne de Boissons (MIB) to do so.
In its “Action of Damages for Wrong by Attachment for Trademark Infringement,” the lawyers asked the court to compel NICOM management to withdraw what it described as “fake CALAO” products from the Liberian market.
It explained that their client, though stationed in Cote d’Ivoire, obtained a trademark certificate from the Liberia Intellectual Property Office (LIPO) to be the sole importer and distributor of CALAO on the Liberian market, of which LIPO assigned a trademark certificate marked LR/M/2016/000.
But, court records said, NICOM without their authorization or without any legal right under the Liberian law, in 2015, obtained the same CALAO trademark from LIPO; but this time, under a different registered number #LR/M/2015/00239.
The Act that established LIPO mandated it to conduct vigorous searches prior to issuing a trademark certificate to a business or individual (s), so as to avoid duplicating of said certificate.
The court document further alleges that LIPO without contacting MIB in Cote d’ Ivoire issued the same trademark certificate for CALAO drink to NICOM, on grounds that NICOM presented a Power-of-Attorney believed to have come from MIB.
The document said MIB instructed LIPO to authorize NICOM to register its trademark to produce and distribute CALAO products throughout the country, which the Ivoirien company has denied.
“As owners of CALAO product, we have over the years designed, manufactured and distributed several other CALAO products, including ciders, digesters (liquors and spirits) throughout Africa and other parts of the World,” the document quoted MIB’s legal team.
The court document alleges that MIB also holds an international registered trademark certificate for CALAO products with the Africa Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), which, since May 1997, it continued to renew, according to OAPI protocol and requirements.
Further, the court record said, in an attempt to deceive the public, NICOM started to produce and distribute fake CALAO products, using their original CALAO trademark on the local market, thereby making people to believe that they are the rightful owners of the product.
It was based on this that BIM is claiming damages in the amount of US$500,000.
Up to press time this newspaper did to obtain a copy of NICOM’s resistance filed to the court.