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NORA BEVERAGES SUES THE PERRIER GROUP OF AMERICA FOR UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES

         NORA BEVERAGES SUES THE PERRIER GROUP OF AMERICA
                     FOR UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES
    BRIDGEPORT, Conn., Dec. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Nora Beverages, Inc. of Mirabel, Canada, which bottles and markets NAYA Natural Spring Water in the United States, Canada and overseas, today filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against The Perrier Group of America, Inc.  The suit by Nora Beverages -- which manufactures the unique NAYA bottle at its water source -- alleges unfair trade practices, trade dress violations under the Federal Trademark Act, breach of a confidential business relationship and misappropriation of trade secrets.
    The eight-count, 47-page complaint was filed in U.S. District Court at Bridgeport.  Named as co-defendants in the suit are The Perrier Group-owned companies which market the Poland Spring, Zephyrhills, Arrowhead, Ozarka and Calistoga brands of bottled spring water in the U.S.
    The suit -- which also includes actions for breach of contract and unjust enrichment -- stems from confidential business negotiations in 1988.  At that time, The Perrier Group sought through Nora Beverages to have its regional water companies enter the promising convenience size (1.5 liter) and single-serve (12-ounce) U.S. bottled spring water market, using clear, recyclable plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.  The Perrier Group's brands were then available in gallon jugs only.
    After years of development, in 1986 Nora had pioneered and introduced in North America its natural spring water in a unique 1.5-liter NAYA PET bottle.  The bottle, which featured a ribbed design and "bottle-upon-bottle" effect, was produced and successfully marketed by Nora Beverages under the NAYA label for about two years prior to its negotiations with The Perrier Group.  These negotiations, according to the complaint, led to a contract under which Nora Beverages agreed to manufacture and supply The Perrier Group with its initial requirements for millions of 1.5-liter and 12-ounce PET bottles.
    The suit charges that The Perrier Group unlawfully used the agreement with Nora Beverages to extract confidential trade information, including proprietary bottle designs, and then failed to purchase any of its bottle requirements from Nora Beverages.  The suit further charges that, within a matter of months after violating its contract with Nora Beverages, The Perrier Group introduced into the U.S. market "copycat" 1.5-liter and 12-ounce PET bottles which were virtually identical to the unique NAYA bottle.
    The complaint also states that Nora Beverages, in good faith, incurred substantial expenses to meet The Perrier Group's requirements for the development of a 12-ounce version of its exclusive NAYA bottle on an accelerated schedule.  Nora Beverages, which at the time did not produce a 12-ounce bottle, was preparing in 1988 to introduce a 16-ounce "generic" bottle.  According to the complaint, based on The Perrier Group's promises to purchase millions of Nora Beverages' unique bottle in a 12-ounce version, Nora Beverages abandoned its efforts on the 16-ounce bottle.  As a result, Nora Beverages lost the opportunity to be the first to introduce and market in North America a single-serve size PET bottle for spring water.  Nora Beverages also ended up trailing by several months The Perrier Group's introduction and marketing in 1989 of its infringing 12-ounce bottle.
    Nora Beverages is seeking compensatory damages from The Perrier Group for the profits and business it lost as a result of the violations alleged.  Nora Beverages also is asking the court to order The Perrier Group and its companies to pay over to Nora Beverages all profits they have earned since 1989 selling the "copycat" bottles of spring water and compensation for lost time, effort and money.  Nora Beverages also seeks punitive damages, a permanent injunction barring The Perrier Group from further copying the proprietary NAYA bottle, and recall and destruction of all of The Perrier Group's infringing bottles wherever situated.  As required by Connecticut law, Nora Beverages intends to formally notify the Connecticut Attorney General's office of the unfair competition charges it has made against The Perrier Group.
    -0-            12/3/91
    /CONTACT:  Marke Rubenstein of Nora Beverages, 203-327-3555, or Andree Tremblay or Diana Tomb of Dorf & Stanton Communications, 212-420-8100, or 800-223-2121, for Nora Beverages/ CO:  Nora Beverages, Inc.; The Perrier Group of America, Inc. ST:  Connecticut IN:  FOD SU: SH-OS -- NY070 -- 8873 12/03/91 15:42 EST
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 3, 1991
Words:694
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