, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 24 – Keroche Breweries Limited has accused East African Breweries Limited of working in cahoots with certain State organs to prevent fair competition in the beer industry.
In response to a suit filed by EABL, Keroche says EABL has demonstrated by word and deed that it is capable of misusing its dominant position to prevent fair competition.
“It is a notorious fact that EABL engages in unfair trade practices both historically and continuously,” argues Keroche.
Keroche says the purported claim by KBL, EABL, Protection Logistics Limited and the Director Department of Weights and Measures in the main suit for violation of an intellectual property in the brown bottles is a culmination of pre-determined unfair trade practices.
The beer company says the scheme came about after it launched a new plant in Naivasha in the presence of industrialization CS Adan Mohammed.
“EABL and the rest have in the past not shied away from using their dominant position to stifle fair competition and drive out competitors unfairly,” reads part of the court documents.
“What EABL and the rest are doing is a classic example of dominant industrial player using regulatory state organs to harass, intimidate and drive out competition under the guise of an intellectual property claim,” says Keroche.
Keroche has however denied infringing on EABL’s alleged trademark in any manner and has demanded it provides proof to substantiate its claims.
In March this year, EABL sued Keroche for alleged illegal diversion and use of its bottles. EABL and Kenya Breweries Ltd want an order stopping Keroche Breweries from using or dealing with its ‘Summit lager’ or Vienna Ice products, which are allegedly bottled in bottles bearing the former’s trademark.
It says there is a likelihood of confusion in the market as some of Keroche’s products are sold in bottles which belong to KBL.
Keroche has however denied collecting EABL’s bottles or using them to refill with its products.
It states that the suit as filed is incompetent and an abuse of the court process and they shall apply to have it struck out.
“Endorsing of universal bottles with initials adds no value in consumer identification of a product as identification is achieved by the unique product label,” it says.
Keroche uses universal brown bottles which are conventionally used worldwide by beer manufacturers. They are known in the market as “Euro Bottles”
Keroche argues that the use and misuse of the Department of Weights and Measures is clearly a very well calculated misuse of a state organ, to ostensibly deal with orchestrated “infringement complaints” against the plaintiffs. It adds that the actual fact on the ground is that the department is carrying out its actions to assist EABL and KBL achieve their wicked scheme of shutting them down like it did to Castle Brewery Kenya limited in 2002.
Castle brewing Kenya Limited was owned by South Africans and had been in Kenya for only four years before it was bundled out.