EABL hits back at firm in bottle row
Brewer says firm’s labelling of its bottles ‘BEER ONLY’ is meant to mislead consumers.
East African Breweries Limited (EABL) has hit back at a company which sued the brewer over use of beer bottles, noting in a court filing that the firm is only licensed to manufacture spirits. The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed beverage maker has further disputed FRM (EA) Packers Limited’s claim that beer bottles used by manufacturers are universal, instead noting that the each processor customises them to their own specifications.EABL notes that the firm has not produced any evidence in court to show that it has ever purchased beer bottles, but FRM argues that it has been importing the re-usable bottles which it used to package its product Santa King Ice.“That it follows that the applicant has failed to establish a threshold level that it has a valid interest in Euro bottles. Since it is not a manufacturer or importer of beer, it has no legal right that this honourable court can be called upon to protect in relation to use of the Euro bottles that are used to package beer only,” says EABL in papers filed in court.FRM sued the Inspector- General of the Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions and EABL together with its local subsidiary Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) as interested parties in its case.FRM accused EABL of instigating arrests and seizures of its products on grounds that their alcohol is illicit brew and over the use of similar beer bottles, allegations EABL denies.But EABL says that the alleged criminal cases revolve around quality of the alcohol, manufacturing and labelling of alcohol which is pending before courts and that should not be allowed to be litigated separately.EABL, in papers filed through Iseme Kamau and Maema advocates says that the firm’s action to package its Santa King Ice brand, a spirit, in bottles labelled ‘BEER ONLY’ amounts to engaging in false trade description of goods contrary to the Trade Descriptions Act.EABL says this is meant to mislead consumers into believing they are consuming beer, which it says can erode its consumer confidence in their product if it is perceived as packaging a spirit beverage in beer bottles.“By seeking those orders, the applicant is essentially asking the court to aid it in furtherance of an illegality,” says EABL.