Liquid fail ... Future promoter Jason Ayoubi took an ice-cream give-away to court.
A million tubs of ice-cream. That's what Jason Ayoubi, boss of failed dance music promoter Future Entertainment, demanded from a company he had accused of trademark infringement because it offered customers the chance to win two tickets to his music festival last summer.
But instead of sweet satisfaction Ayoubi has an ice-cream headache, with a judge ruling against his now-defunct company after it failed to turn up in Federal Court three times for the case it had brought against Cold Rock.
In an email seen by Fairfax, Mr Ayoubi wrote to Stan Gordon, CEO of Franchised Food Company, which owns ice-cream brands Cold Rock and Mr Whippy, to demand that he drop any reference to the Future Music Festival in his promotional material and packaging.
''Stan this is beyond a joke buddy,'' Mr Ayoubi wrote on February 7. ''I will now be taking care of this issue from our side no lawyers required … If you don't pay us for the use of our IP then I will advertise that you [sic] winners will be refused entry. So we want 1 million tubs of cold rock for free.''
Mr Gordon insists his company dropped all references to the festival as soon as Future raised its concerns. Despite that, and Mr Ayoubi's claim that no lawyers were required, Future instituted legal proceedings on May 27. But at three hearings - on July 5, August 7 and August 30 - it failed to show.
In dismissing the case and awarding costs - likely to be about $30,000 - to Cold Rock, Justice Murphy, presiding, noted that Future Entertainment ''has treated the respondents shabbily and the court with contempt''.
Justice Murphy also noted that Future Entertainment had ''little or no chance of success'' in its case because by the time it began the company no longer even owned the trademarks it claimed had been breached.
During the August 30 hearing Cold Rock's lawyer noted that Future Entertainment - the parent company behind the long-running Summadayze, Future Music and Good Life dance music festivals - ''was essentially a two-dollar company'' whose sole assets appeared to consist of ''six trademarks''.
Those trademarks - relating to the Future Entertainment, Future Music Festival and Summadayze brands and logos - were transferred in June to a new company, Future Music Holdings, whose sole director is Maria Papadimitriou. Its address is the same as Future Entertainment's.
Justice Murphy observed in his judgment that the trademarks may have been transferred ''because of the obvious financial trouble the company is in''.
On September 4, in a separate case in the Supreme Court, Future Entertainment and two other companies in the group were wound up, over a $22,215 debt. Industry sources have suggested the final tally could be in the millions.
On the same day Justice Murphy was finding against Future Entertainment in the Federal Court, music industry heavyweight Michael Gudinski was announcing a ''strategic alliance'' between Frontier Touring – the live music arm of his Mushroom Group – and the Future Music Festival.
He promised to take the festival, and its under-18 sibling Good Life, to ''an even bigger and brighter future''.
Mr Gudinski insists the company he has created to do that has nothing to do with the Future companies that used to run the festivals. He said he bought the IP from a ''third party''. That third party is Ms Papadimitriou, who works at Future Entertainment.
Mr Gordon, however, believes the old companies transferred their assets to Ms Papadimitriou in a deliberate bid to evade creditors. ''We think it's a
phoenix transaction,'' he said.
''We intend to actively pursue the directors of the company for costs. The proceedings should never have been commenced because they didn't even own the trademarks when they issued the writ.''
And if the companies have no assets? ''I will liquidate the directors and their personal assets.''