A dispute over the use of the name 'Limerick Whiskey' on a brand of spirits has come before the High Court.
The action has been brought by Nicholas Ryan and his company, Limerick Spirits Company Ltd, which has spent the last number of years working on building up a 'Limerick Whiskey' venture.
This involves using locally grown barley and to distil the whiskey in Limerick, using the ‘Limerick Whiskey’ brand name.
Mr Ryan, from Drumbanna, Limerick, and his company, have brought proceedings against Anthony Foote, Liam McInerney and Michael Fitzgerald and a linked company, Limerick Distillery Company Ltd, over the use of the name 'Limerick Whiskey.'
In correspondence with the plaintiffs’ solicitors, they have denied any wrongdoing and say the claims against them are baseless.
In an affidavit, Mr Ryan said first learned about the proposed use of the name ‘Limerick Whiskey’ by the defendants in a newspaper article published some weeks ago.
Mr Ryan claims he was approached by, and held discussions with, the defendants in 2019 with a view to supporting his plans to produce a Limerick brand of whiskey.
He said nothing came of the discussions and he was surprised when he discovered in 2020 the defendants had registered the business name, Limerick Distillery Company Ltd, a name he intended to use for his own venture.
Mr Ryan said he had been selling whiskey under the Thomond Gate brand name, using stock sourced from outside Limerick.
He and his company are currently and actively trading under the ‘Limerick Whiskey’ brand name, which he registered, on a spirit made from local materials, distilled in Limerick and matured in Ireland.
He said that, in their discussions, he had disclosed confidential information to the defendants about the business. He claimed that Mr Foote, of Parteen Co Clare, Mr McInerney, of Ballinacourty, Castleconnell, Co Limerick and Michael Fitzgerald, Castleroberts, Patrickswell, Limerick had not acted in good faith with him.
He said a lot of hard work has gone into the venture and, if he were to lose the naming rights to the trading name to a competitor, it will result in them getting “an unfair advantage and a springboard off the back of our endeavours.”
He fears their product is misleading and will damage his business reputation.
The claims are denied by the defendants, who deny any sensitive information was disclosed to them and deny Mr Ryan has any goodwill or reputation in the Limerick Whiskey Brand.
He claims he has sought but not received undertakings from the defendants, including not to use the name Limerick Whiskey.
Represented by Frank Callanan SC, the plaintiffs seek various orders including injunctions preventing the defendants using the name ‘Limerick Whiskey’. from using confidential information obtained from the plaintiffs and from representing the sale of the defendants products is approved and supported by the plaintiffs. They further seek orders requiring the defendants to either delete or surrender all social media channels, web domains, trademarks and intellectual property that refers to Limerick whiskey.
Mr Justice Senan Allen, on an ex-parte basis on Friday, granted the plaintiffs permission to serve short notice of the proceedings on the defendants and returned the matter to later this month