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 the company he set up, 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 distilling the whiskey in Limerick, using the Limerick Whiskey’ brand name.
However, 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 a sworn statement to the court Mr Ryan said first learned about the proposed use of the name ‘Limerick Whiskey’ by the defendants in a newspaper article that was published some weeks ago.
Mr Ryan claims that in 2019 he was approached by and held discussions with the defendants, with a view to supporting his plans to produce a Limerick brand of whiskey.
Nothing came of their discussions. He said he was surprised when he discovered in 2020 that the defendants had registered the business name Limerick Distillery Company Ltd, a name he intended to use for his own venture.
Thomond Gate brand
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 disclosed confidential information to the defendants about the business.
He said 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 that 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 that their produce 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 one not to use the name Limerick Whiskey. No undertakings were offered.
Represented by Frank Callanan SC the plaintiffs seek various orders including injunctions preventing the defendants from using the name ‘Limerick Whiskey’
The plaintiffs also seek orders restraining the defendants from using confidential information obtained from them, or from representing that the sale of the defendant’s produces is approved and supported by the plaintiffs.