Oatly brings Cambridgeshire agricultural justice to court in a brand dispute

Oatly, the Swedish oat milk manufacturer with a market value of $ 15 billion, has taken legal action for trademark infringement against a Cambridgeshire-based family farm for its PureOaty drink.

The Malmo-based group accuses Glebe Farm Foods, which specializes in gluten-free oats, of violating brands including the Oatly brand name and package design, and of “transmitting” the drink as Oatly, according to documents submitted. to the court.

Oatly, that listed in New York last month, seeks an injunction to stop PureOaty brand sales, plus damages and costs. A two-day trial began in London’s High Court on Wednesday.

Glebe Farm Foods, which has declared net worth of less than £ 5 million for the year to March 2020, denies the claims, arguing that its own brand launched in 2020 simply “recalls the concepts of purity and oats”. .

The dispute comes as brands of vegetable milk multiply to the globe to respond to a growing cohort of eco-conscious consumers. Oatly herself is preparing to open a large production plant in Peterborough in eastern England.

Advocates for Oatly and its UK business claim that when Glebe Farm changed its Oat Drink product to PureOaty in 2020, “Glebe Farm’s intention was to bring Oatly products to mind and so on. take advantage of the Oatly brand’s enormous power of attraction and reputation. ”

They say the Oatly barista edition, designed to foam like milk for coffee use, is the best-selling single product in the UK dairy alternatives market, with sales of more than £ 38 million a year through February 27, 2021.

Oatly’s lawyers claim that the name PureOaty recalls Oatly, while the blue packaging of the product and the image of a cup of tea are also reminiscent of the Swedish brand.

Ishen Paran, director general of the British army at Oatly, told the court on Wednesday that he suspected the launch of PureOaty was linked to Oatly’s supply shortage reported in 2019.

But lawyers for Glebe Farm, which mainly sells oats to third parties, have been asked to dismiss all allegations against the Cambridgeshire company.

They said the only common features between Oatly and PureOaty were “generic features” such as the cup of coffee and the descriptive word “oats,” while they let it be known that Oatly does not offer a gluten-free version.

They reject any “deliberate freeride” and say that their own packaging “does not know the color or the verbosity of [Oatly’s] packaging. . .[it]you don’t know anything that the plaintiffs can properly call. ”The case continues.

Nestlé failed in an attempt to brand the term “vegan butchery” in the United States this year after another family company, The Herbivorous Butcher, filed an objection.

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