American food company sues Dublin firm over ‘nearly identical’ packaging

Stela Value Foods, Dublin

20 January 2022

An American-based food producer has issued High Court proceedings against a Dublin food company it claims is selling pounded yam in “nearly identical” packaging to its own.

Fayus Inc, trading under the name Yusol International Foods, is a United States wholesaler and retailer of a range of African and Caribbean food products. In its court action, the company says it has been selling its Ola-Ola branded products to wholesalers and retail outlets in Ireland since 2007.

Orders

It claims to have seen a “noticeable decline” in orders of the west African staple and, in some instances, a cessation of orders by retailers who regularly bought the product.

It is suing Stela Value Foods Limited, with a registered address at Unit 8 Ringwood Centre, Damastown Close, Dublin 15, over claims that it has infringed its copyright of the Ola-Ola packaging and passed off goods for products produced and/or provided and/or marketed by the US company.

All the claims are denied by Stela.

Mr Justice Denis McDonald said he was satisfied the case qualified for entry to the Commercial Court’s fast-track list. It was entered on application by Fayus and on consent by Stela.

Patrick Leonard SC, for Stela, said his client also consented to three injunctions restraining it and its agents from passing off products as or for Stela’s Ola-Ola Authentic Pounded Yam (Iyan) or infringing copyright of Fayus in this packaging.

Damages

In an affidavit, Fayus’s chief operating officer, Fatai Yusufu, with an address in Sacramento, California, said Fayus has sold some 45,600 units of its authentic yam product in Ireland with an approximate value of €1.5 million.

He said the company enjoys a “substantial reputation and goodwill” in this State for the brand, trade dress and slogan of its product.

Mr Yusufu alleges he became aware of the allegedly infringing product being sold in “nearly identical” trade dress to his company’s product. He claims the only difference in packaging appearance was the omission of Fayus’s slogan and the way the batch numbers are recorded.

Fayus is also seeking damages on account of alleged profits made from products subject of alleged copyright infringement.

Mr Justice McDonald made the orders as agreed between the parties and adjourned the matter for two weeks. He said he hoped the sides can resolve any outstanding issues between them.

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