Golden Guinea Breweries, the Umuahia, Abia State-based brewer on the cusp of making a comeback to the nation’s beer market has filed a lawsuit at a Federal High Court against Pabod Breweries Limited, a subsidiary of AB InBev.
The suit seeks N10bn general damages from Pabod for alleged infringement of Golden Guinea’s trademark for the production of Eagle Stout.
The case which was first filed in 2016 has been heard twice. The latest hearing would have been on Friday, 15th June is the day Trade Mark Registry was summoned by the court to come for examination but the case was adjourned due to the 2018 Eid-el-Fitr Public holidays. The court has set a new hearing date of 24 October 2018.
Golden Guinea Breweries Plc wants the court to declare that as the rightful owner of the trademark “Eagle Stout” registered as No. 21153 in class 32 at the Nigerian Trademarks Registry Abuja, it is entitled to the exclusive use of the mark for the production sale and distribution of the product in the Nigerian market.
In addition to the N10bn general damages sought by Golden Guinea, the plaintiff is also seeking N10m aggravated damages from Pabod.
In a writ filed by Golden Guinea solicitors, Omolola Aderolu of Johnson Bryant, the plaintiff seeks for the court to restrain Pabod Breweries from producing, importing selling, or offering for sale or supplying products known as “Eagle Stout” pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
Among other demands, Golden Guinea Breweries is also seeking the court to order for the destruction of all infringing “Eagle Stout” products, in the possession/custody or control of Pabod Breweries, the sale, distribution.
In addition, Golden Guinea wants the court to order for the obliteration of all marks upon oat, all containers, cartons, show cards, display matter, signboards, advertisements, circulars, note papers, business cards, letterheads, stationery, labels, wrappers, photocopies or other printed materials or other products, papers or marked articles bearing the market/name “Eagle Stout” in the possession/custody or control of Pabod Breweries.
Pabod Breweries Limited was one of the three brewing companies in Nigeria owned by SABMiller prior to the October 2016 acquisition by Belgian brewer AB InBev.
In December 2017, AB InBev completed the merger of its three breweries in Nigeria – Pabod Breweries Limited, International Breweries plc and Intafact Beverages Limited. They were all folded into the name International Breweries Plc.
Golden Guinea Breweries is located in Umuahia, Abia State, while Pabod Breweries is located in Rivers State.
According to a source at Pan Marine Investment Limited, the current owners of Golden Guinea Breweries Plc, “We have it in good authority that SABMiller did not declare this court case to AB InBev. I remember that in 2016 we shut down their operations in Port Harcourt for two days based on the court order. The records and pictures are there in the court”.
Sources say the case could be a market risk for AB InBev transaction.
Golden Guinea Breweries first opened for business in 1963 following the post-independence of Nigeria. The company was then known as Independence Brewery Limited. It started with an annual capacity of 1 million gallons. In 1967, it introduced Eagle Stout to the Nigerian market but its production was disrupted by the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War between 1967 and 1970.
The brewer resumed production after the war, changing its name to Golden Guinea Breweries in 1971. In 1975, it underwent a major overhaul of its production facilities. It introduced more brands including Golden Guinea Lager, Bergedorf Premium Lager, and Bergedorf Malta, all under licensing from Holsten Brauerei AG of Hamburg, Germany. The company was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1979 as Golden Guinea Breweries Plc. In 2003, the firm suffered a fire outbreak at its facilities which damaged equipment leading to the shutdown of the company.
Pan Marine Investment Limited, the core investor of Golden Guinea Breweries has intensified efforts to bring back the ailing company to life and set August 2018 as the launch date.