Big blow to Coca-Cola in Nigeria
A Federal High Court sitting in Kano on Tuesday refused to grant the interlocutory application filed by the manufacturers of Coca Cola brand requesting the court to stop a rival brand, Pop Cola, from carrying out commercial activities in Nigeria.
Coca-Cola applied to restrain the local brand from continuing its business in a manner that some consumers said was inhibitive of healthy competition.
Rather in his ruling, Justice Muhammmad Nasir Yunusa ordered for accelerated hearing.
Justice Yunusa said granting interlocutory injunction is discretionary power of the court but in a case of this nature it is important for the judge to hear all facts from all parties to enable the court determine the substantive suit at the end of the trial.
Coca-Cola in an interlocutory application had prayed the court for its order restraining the respondents from further using the systematic ribbon devise presently been displayed on Pop Cola.
The plaintiff applicant through its counsel, Mark Emordi, SAN further prayed for an order of the court to stop Pop Cola from advertising and displaying its goods which he claimed are similar to Coca-Cola.
Further in their prayers, Coca-Cola prayed that the court should order Pop Cola to stop using the strip on their beverage for sales and advert purposes, arguing the act is infringing on the trade mark of Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola said if court allows Pop Cola to continue to trade its products in the Nigerian market, it trade activities would amount to an irreparable damage to its own brand.
The plaintiff submitted that Pop Cola has caused confusion among consumers through the use of similar systematic ribbon been used by Coca-Cola, adding that the act amounts to an infringement and causing disillusion and needed to be restrained, pending the determination of the substantive matter.
The defendant/respondent replied through Offiong Offiong, SAN, dismissing the claims to legal rights been alluded to the matter by the respondents.
Offiong argued that the issues between Coca Cola and Pop Cola is purely a matter of trade dispute.
The court in its ruling stated that Coca-Cola in the application for an interlocutory order failed to show the ingredients for balance of convenience.
The court also said the plaintiff/applicant could not establish that irreparable damages will occur if the court failed to restrain Pop Cola from carrying out its trade, noting that the issue before the court for determination does involve perishable goods.
It further said Coca-Cola failed establish the conditions that are needed to be fulfilled to obtain such orders.
The court said it is of the opinion that the matter should be to exhausted through an accelerated hearing and so ordered.
The matter was adjourned to 25th April, for hearing.
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