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Kenya

Court dismisses EABL claims against Keroche in bottle battle

EABL-PLANT

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 25 – East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) has lost the first round in a court case against rival Keroche Breweries in which EABL and its subsidiary Kenya Breweries Limited had sought to expunge some sections of Keroche’s application.

EABL had gone to court in March 2016 to stop Keroche from using the standard brown bottles, arguing the bottles had been embossed with the EABL logo, thus confusing customers.

In its response, Keroche countersued EABL accusing the brewer of several restrictive trade practices including misuse of intellectual property.

Keroche, in addition to accusing EABL of being a dominant player, extensively quoted from the Hansard of past events in which EABL was accused of hounding out Castle Breweries from the market.

The Ruaraka brewer, on its part, asked the court to strike out Keroche’s response terming the allegations, ‘unfair and scandalous.’

In a ruling made by Judge Fred Ochieng, the court dismissed EABL’s application with costs.

“In my considered opinion, the defence on record, including the paragraphs which the plaintiffs wished to have struck out, are not oppressive, scandalous extraneous or immaterial,” ruled Judge Ochieng.

Furthermore, the court found EABL erred in demanding Keroche adduce satisfactory evidence to back their assertions that it was a dominant market player.

The court also dismissed the plaintiff’s request to strike out Keroche’s counter accusation on the basis that they were ‘extraneous and immaterial.’

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“When the defendant responded to the claims of unfair competition, by asserting that it was the plaintiffs who were culpable of unfair competition, it cannot be said that the defendant’s assertions were extraneous or immaterial,” wrote Judge Ochieng in his ruling.

The judge also refused to conduct a mini-trial by declining to rule on the strength and the style of Keroche’s counter application against EABL, saying, if that was the case, the same will not withstand scrutiny at the trial.

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