The lawsuit - which echoes a complaint filed against Nestlé by ice cream maker Clemmy’s (click HERE) - alleges that Nestlé Waters NA offered retailers financial incentives to stop carrying Nirvana bottled water products and broke a non-disclosure agreement by sharing confidential information about the smaller firm with trading partners.
In a complaint* filed in New York on Wednesday (August 20), Nirvana Inc claims that relations with Nestlé soured in 2011 after it switched its strategy from primarily co-packing other firms’ bottled water brands and launched its own branded products, which started taking market share from Nestlé Waters' brands Poland Spring and Deer Park.
Takeover approach a ‘ruse to get access to Nirvana's confidential information’, alleges NY-based bottled water co
Shortly afterwards, alleges Nirvana Inc, Nestlé approached it about a takeover, and in February 2012, signed a Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA) as the talks involved the exchange of sensitive information including financial records and projections.
But this was merely a “ruse to get access to Nirvana's confidential information”, claims Nirvana, which alleges that Nestlé broke the NDA by telling wholesale purchasers that Nirvana was up for sale and in financial trouble.
Defendants acted with specific intent to exclude competition in the relevant market
Nestlé then brought several supermarkets a letter showing that Nirvana was approaching Nestlé about selling out, and offered firms including Stew Leonard's and A&P financial incentives to stop carrying Nirvana products, alleges the lawsuit.