Del Monte in Dismissal of Intellectual Property Claims Brought By Cirio De Rica

May 4, 2005

Cleary Gottlieb represented Del Monte Foods (France), the French subsidiary of longtime client Fresh Del Monte Produce, in an action brought by Italian company Cirio De Rica simultaneously before French and Italian courts.

The dispute, which followed Fresh Del Monte Produce’s acquisition of the Del Monte European business from the Cirio Group (then in bankruptcy proceedings), involved the ownership of intellectual property rights over labels and cluster packages for tomato-based products, as well as unfair competition allegations. To prevent Del Monte Foods from using the labels and cluster packages, Cirio De Rica sought summary judgment from the Commercial Court of Lyons (France) and a temporary restraining order from the Court of Naples (Italy). Consequently, the defense strategy required close coordination among Cleary Gottlieb’s Paris, Rome and Milan offices.

In an April 1 order, the Lyons Court dismissed Cirio De Rica’s claims, ruling that the ownership of the intellectual property rights was not evidenced. Cirio De Rica has since filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals of Lyons. In its May 4 order, the Naples Court also dismissed Cirio De Rica’s claims, which sought to enjoin the use of the disputed labels and cluster packages by manufacturers.