Kaieteur News news item, Tuesday 20 October 2009 - "Sugar lawsuit could cost GuySuCo $200 million" - http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2009/10/20/sugar-lawsuit-could-cost-guysuco-200-million/
Utterances by Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud had cost the government millions of dollars. And this high expenditure will continue until well into the new year.
By the time the matter is disposed of in the courts, GuySuCo could spend some $200 million.
The issue began when the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) decided to challenge a United States-based Guyanese man, Vernon Bedessee, over the use of the label Demerara Gold on sugar packages.
GuySuCo was already marketing a product, Demerara Gold, on the European market but the company discovered that Bedessee was marketing a product of the same name but instead of sugar made in Demerara, the product marketed by Bedessee was from Mauritius.
And Bedessee made it known on the label that his Demerara Gold was a product of Mauritius.
GuySuCo immediately challenged the apparent trademark infringement. In fact, the sugar company is in the final process of preparing legal documents to defend its trademark.
Its Washington-based lawyers, Foley Hoag and Company, have already secured a qualified registration in the United States as part of the challenge to Bedessee’s apparent trademark infraction.
It successfully made the application a few weeks ago.
Following the discovery of the apparent trademark infraction, Agriculture Minister made some statements critical of Bedessee’s action.
These statements were published by the local media and reproduced in the overseas editions of some of the local newspapers.
Immediately Bedessee sued for libel and slander.
In Guyana, the local lawyers, Cameron and Shepherd, have already set about defending the lawsuits filed in Guyana by Bedessee. Representing Bedessee is the law firm of Hughes, Fields and Stoby.
The Washington-based lawyers do not come cheap, according to a GuySuCo official. Chief Executive Officer of the sugar company, Errol Hanoman, declined to comment and referred all queries to the local lawyers, Cameron and Shepherd.
A spokesman in the local law firm of Cameron and Shepherd said that United States law firms do not operate like those in Guyana. Lawyers charge by the hour. The spokesman said that top lawyers charge US$1,500 per hour.
Foley Hoag and Company lawyers charge slightly less. Investigations have revealed that the lawyers on the GuySuCo case are charging about US$1,000 per hour. Two lawyers are working on the matter.
The Cameron and Shepherd spokesperson said that at this time and for the next few months the two lawyers could be working eight hours a day, each, preparing pleadings.
The bill is bound to be high, he said.
When these are completed the charge would drop to almost nothing. GuySuCo does not pay retainers to foreign lawyers.
These charges at present average between $15 million and $20 million per month. The spokesperson said that the charges will go up again when the trial begins.
In the end, the cost could be very high but according to the spokesperson, this money could be recovered when the sugar company demands costs from Bedessee.