There was “something perverse” about a case in which the claim for €260,000, which resulted in a €35,000 award, could cost over €2m and put the infringing company out of business, said Mr Justice Michael Twomey.
He was speaking when making the €35,000 award against Limerick-based Nualtra Ltd in favour of Dutch firm NutriMedical BV and London-based Aymes International.
He found Nualtra had infringed NutriMedical’s trademark in relation to the nutritional supplement drink Nutriplete. The drink is only sold to medical professionals and not directly to the consumer.
Nualtra marketed its drink under the name Nutraplen with very similar visual and aural marks and with a limited conceptual similarity, the judge found.
Nualtra renamed and rebranded the product after the legal proceedings began.
The chief executive of Nualtra told the court it had never occurred to him to give an undertaking to NutriMedical not to use Nutriplen which could have obviated the need for litigation, said the judge.
Nualtra said the cost to it of just defending the proceedings amounted to €1.3m. If it has to pay Nutrimedical’s costs, this will be over €2m, said the judge.
Nutrimedical gave no evidence of any actual loss as a result of the actions of Nualtra, he said. It did provide evidence of the cost of a hypothetical fee of €260,000 which Nualtra would have to have had to pay in order to get a licence for its product, he said.