Registered Trustees of Nigeria Olympic cmmittee and the International Olympic committee have dragged a Limited liability company Nutricima Nigeria Limited who are producers of Olympic Milk before a Federal high court sitting in Lagos over an alleged passing off and infringing of it’s name”OLYMPIC”
In the ensuing international legal hostility,the plaintiffs are urging the court to order Nutricima Nigeria Limited company to pay them the sum of two Billion Naira,being general, exemplary and punitive damages for the unauthorized use, passing off and infringement of thier name”OLYMPIC”and usage of the plaintiffs’ goodwill, , integrity and name without due authorization and licence, for which they have suffered as a result of the unauthorized, illegal,wrongful usage of the trade name “Olympic by the defendant for the production of it’s milk ,”Olympic Milk” and organizing Olympic 5-A side football tournament.
In a 22-paragraph of amended statement of claim filed before the court ,by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mrs Abimbola Akeredolu,the plaintiffs averred:
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Recognizing that sport occurs within the framework of society, sports organizations within the Olympic Movement shall have the rights and obligations of autonomy, which include freely establishing and controlling the rules of sport, determining the structure and governance of their organizations, enjoying the right of elections free from any outside influence and the responsibility for ensuring that principles of good governance be applied.
The Plaintiffs further averred that the International Olympic committee became associated with the trade name and identified as the trademark owner of the name “OLYMPIC” as far back as 1894 and by its charter, became the exclusive owner of the name “OLYMPIC” to the exclusion of any other person and has its members in all countries of the world and the Registered Trustees of Nigeria Olympic committee is an authorized user of the International Olympic committee trademark within the territory of Nigeria.
The Plaintiffs averred that they recently became aware as it came to their knowledge that the Nutricima Nigeria Limited Company, without due authorization, consent and approval has been using the exclusive and trade mark name of the Plaintiffs (Olympic) to manufacture and sell milk and organizing Olympic 5-A Side football tournament or any sporting events in the name of “Olympic” within the territory of Nigeria.
The google search conducted on the website of the Defendant, Facebook and WhatsApp in respect of the unauthorized, illegal and unlawful user of the name “OLYMPIC” revealed active use of the name “Olympic ” by the Defendant for the production of milk, advertisement, promoting, and organizing Olympic 5-A-Side football tournament, advertisement and promoting ambassadorship of notable persons in the electronic media, Newspapers, social media, Facebook.
The exclusive generic name “Olympic” the Defendant is using to manufacture/sell milk, organize Olympic 5-A Side football tournament and advertise same is the same with the exclusive trade name of the Plaintiffs “Olympic” which the wrongful, unauthorized, illegal and unlawful usage is intended to mislead, cause confusion and capable of leading the public to believe that there is a sort of symbiotic association or collaboration between the Plaintiffs and the Defendant or that the Defendant has due authorization of the Plaintiffs to make use of its exclusive and trade name “Olympic” in the manufacture,
Production sale and advertisment of the Milk product called “Olympic Milk”.
The Plaintiffs contend that the Defendant’s unlawful, illegal, unauthorized and wrongful usage of the name “Olympic” to manufacture, produce, sell and advertise its Olympic milk product and to organize Olympic 5-A-Side football tournament within the territory of Nigeria, is intended and calculated to deceive all persons who know, associate and intend to deal with the Plaintiffs to buy the Defendant’s product called “Olympic milk” as if the Defendant has the authority and license of the Plaintiffs to use their exclusive and goodwill and trademark name “Olympic” in the production, manufacture, advertisement and selling of its product called “Olympic milk” and to organize Olympic 5-A Side football tournament for 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 edition of the competition.
The Plaintiffs state that the International Olympic committee being the exclusive user of the name “Olympic” worldwide since 1894, the unauthorized, illegal, wrongful, and unlawful usage and continued usage of the name of “Olympic” by the Defendant affects the goodwill the Plaintiffs have acquired over the usage of the name “Olympic”by the Defendant to manufacture, produce, advertise and sell its milk products and organize sporting events and football competition affects the goodwill the Plaintiffs over the usage of the name “Olympic” as same amounts to passing off and or infringement of the trademark or trade name exclusively meant for the usage of the Plaintiffs worldwide and within the territory of Nigeria.
The Plaintiffs state that they caused their solicitors to write a letter of 13th December, 2012 to the Defendant to stop and desist from using the name of “Olympic” passing off and infringement of the trade name “Olympic”, but the Defendant refused.failed, to manufacture, neglected produce, and negated market, to stop selling and the advertise usage of its product called “Olympic Milk” and hence the institution of this suit, seeking of damages and injunctions against the holding of the Olympic 5-Aside football tournament competition.
The usage and continued use of the name “Olympic” by the Defendant in the production and sale of the milk product and organizing Olympic 5-A Side football tournament or any sporting event which is the International Olympic Committee’s property has affected the goodwill and integrity the Plaintiffs have built in respect of the name “Olympic” since 1894.
From all intent and purposes, that except the Defendant is restrained by a perpetual order of injunction and made to pay adequate compensation for the passing off, infringement, illegal, unlawful and unauthorized usage of the name “Olympic” the Defendant will continue to use the name “Olympic”
In epic Footprints magazine,the defendant using P-Square advertise as follows:”The duo has been in Frontline entertainment in Africa.The star singers Peter and Paul Okoye known as P-Square have been dominant Globacom ambassadors and thier deals have been a subject of envy among colleagues. One of them, Peter Okoye is the face of Olympic Milk deals swelling their endorsement status.
The Plaintiffs from thier pleadings in the Statement of Claim state that the Defendant has no defence to their claim and that the Plaintiffs are entitled to all the common law, equitable, declarative, and injunctions now being sought by the Plaintiffs against the Defendant from the usage of their exclusive generic trade name “Olympic”
Consequently the Plaintiffs claim against the Defendant are as follows: –
An order that the Defendant pays to the Plaintiffs the sum of N2 billion Naira being general, exemplary and punitive damages for the unauthorized use, passing off and or infringement of the Plaintiffs’ name “Olympic” and usage of the Plaintiffs’ goodwill, integrity and name without due authorization and license, for which the Plaintiffs have suffered as a result of unauthorized, illegal, wrongful usage of the trade name “Olympic” by the Defendant for the production of its milk “Olympic Milk” and organizing Olympic 5-A Side football tournament.
An order that the Defendant pays 50% profits it has made from the sale of Olympic Milk for the past 5 years to the Plaintiffs.
A declaration that from the etymology, usage, custom, trade, Olympic charter,
International convention and certification of Incorporation and constitution of the Registered Trustees of Nigeria Olympic committee to the exclusion of any other persons including the defendant,the plaintiffs are and remain exclusive user owner and trade mark owner and trade name worldwide and in Nigeria.
A declaration that the name “Olympic” which the Defendant uses in the manufacture, production, advertisement, and sale of its product called “Olympic milk” and to organize Olympic 5-A Side football tournament, is same with the exclusive and trade name “Olympic” which absolutely by international convention, trade, usage and by Olympic charter, belongs to the Plaintiffs.
A declaration that the Defendant does not have the authority, approval and consent of the Plaintiffs to use their trademark name “OLYMPIC” to produce, sell and advertise the milk product “OLYMPIC MILK” and the usage of the trade mark name without authorization, consent and approval of the Plaintiffs to produce, sell and advertise the milk is an infringement of the trade mark name “Olympic”.
An order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendant whether by its servants, agents, workmen, staff, assigns and privies from further passing off, infringement of the trade name of the Plaintiffs and using the name “Olympic” for the manufacture, production, distribution, advertisement and sale of its product milk or any other product; and from using the Name Olympic and Olympic properties to organize Olympic 5-A Side football tournament, within the territory of Nigeria except with the due authorization and license of the Plaintiffs.
An unreserved apology against further usage and advertisement of the trademark name to be published in two National Daily Newspapers.
An undertaking and bond not to use the Plaintiffs’ trademark name “OLYMPIC” without due authorization and destruction of all defendants product carrying the plaintiffs trade mark name Olympic and stop forthwith the organization of the Olympic 5-A-side football tournament.
However in it’s statement of defence filed before the court by its counsel,the defendant, denies every allegation of facts contained in the statement of claim and states that the manufacture and distribution of its Olympic Milk brand and sponsorship of the 2016 Olympic Milk Football
Tournament did not by any law, statutory or judicial or any contractual principle, require the authorization, permission, consent and/or approval of the Plaintiffs or any other person.
The Defendant admits the Statement of Claim only to the extent that it indeed enjoys a high patronage by the general public of its Olympic Milk brand and states further that the high patronage is due to the fact that its numerous customers are well satisfied with its top quality products being made available to them at very affordable prices.
The defendant while denying every other allegation of facts contained in the statement of claim asserts that the success recorded by its Olympic Milk brand has nothing howsoever to do with the Plaintiff, its affiliates or their alleged goodwill and will put the Plaintiff to the strictest proof of this allegation at the trial of this Suit.
The Defendant is a limited liability company duly registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, Caps C20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (“Companies and Allied Matters Act”) and has as its shareholder, Milk Ventures (UK) Limited (“Milk Ventures (UK) Limited”), a private company limited by shares, with its registered address at PZ Cussons, House, Bird Hall Lane, Stockport SK3 OXN, England and engaged in the manufacturing and marketing of evaporated powdered milk products and nutritional drinks to West African markets.
The Defendant avers that Milk Ventures (UK) Limited is the exclusive proprietor and registered owner of the trade name “Olympic” (“the “Mark” “Olympic”or “Brand Name”) within the territories of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having duly registered the brand name at The Trademarks, Patents And Designs Registry, Commercial Law Department, Federal Ministry Of Industry, Trade And Investment (“The Trademark Registry”) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as:
Trade Mark No: 21669 in Class 29 in respect of all goods in the class which was registered with the Trade Marks Registry and subsequently renewed for a fourteen year period effective from 03 March 2006 and dated 26 May 2006.
The Defendant avers that the manufacture and distribution of its Olympic Milk brand within the territories of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its usage of the Olympic Milk trademark to sponsor and headline sporting events, including the 2016 Olympic Milk 5 Aside football tournament is in lawful exercise of its rights as conferred by the Trade Marks Act.
The Defendant did not at any time receive any letter or any other form of memo or communication from the Plaintiff, either by itself or through its solicitors or any other person wherein it was requested to stop the use of its Olympic Name or to do or restrain from doing any other thing.
The Defendant states that, no loss whatsoever has been occasioned to the Plaintiff as a result of the manufacture and distribution of the Olympic Milk brand by the Defendant, consequently
the Plaintiff is not howsoever entitled to any of the reliefs it seeks before this Honourable Court as no circumstance has arisen that warrants a grant of any of such reliefs.
The Defendant urges the Court to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ reliefs as contained in the Statement of Claim as being preemptive, frivolous, vexatious,and gold-digging.