Oatly Loses Trademark Suit Against Glebe Farm Foods' PureOaty Product

from the oat brand dept

A couple of months back, we discussed something of a silly lawsuit overseas between Oatly, a large oat-milk manufacturer, and Glebe Farm Foods over its own PureOaty drink. At issue were Oatly’s own trademarks and its claims that PureOaty infringed on those marks. As we noted at the time, because the word “oat” is descriptive of the products in both cases, and with PureOaty using the “pure” as a differentiator among other things, this was a trademark claim that essentially came down to the letter “y”. And, yes, that is dumb. Especially when you consider that there are significant differences when it comes to PureOaty’s trade dress.

There is simply little reason to be concerned about public confusion between those two products when you take everything in sum total. The colors in the branding are different, and the trade dress and placement generally doesn’t lend itself towards public confusion.

And it turns out that the courts in the UK agree.

Judge Nicholas Caddick at London’s High Court dismissed claims by the Malmo-based group that Cambridgeshire-based Glebe Farm Foods, which specialises in gluten-free oats, of infringing trademarks including the Oatly brand name and pack design, and of “passing off” the beverage as Oatly.

In his ruling, the judge said the visual similarity of the names were “very modest” and that there was no evidence of actual confusion among consumers regarding the two products.

Both parties were reached for comment after the ruling. Glebe Farm Foods was understandably pleased with the result, noting that it isn’t always the case that smaller entities like its company can beat large enterprises like Oatly in court, even on the merits. Oatly, for its part, claims it will not appeal the ruling and accepts it, adding that it never actually wanted to harm Glebe Farm Foods in the first place.

Oatly added that it never brought the case to damage Glebe Farm and wanted them “to thrive and help bring products into the world that are good for the planet”. “We wish Glebe Farm total success in their plant-based journey moving forward,” it said.

Kind words, but somewhat tone-deaf given that even Oatly acknowledged that this entire lawsuit was initiated essentially over the letter “y”. That this single character resulted in a lawsuit of all things doesn’t lend a lot of credence to Oatly’s “I’m okay, you’re okay” posture.

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Companies: glebe farm foods, oatly, pureoaty

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Comments on “Oatly Loses Trademark Suit Against Glebe Farm Foods' PureOaty Product”

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17 Comments
Flotsamsays:

Re: I alwys get England confused with Britain.

I’ve been doing this for about 30 years and I’m starting to feel like Sisyphus. One more time up that hill…

Groats are coins. Oats are cereals.

England is one of the four main regions that make up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

There are two main types of football: Association and Rugby. Soccer is short for association and rugger is the equivalent for Rugby.

There is nothing to be confused about with regard to cricket and baseball. One is the pinnacle of sporting activity and the other is baseball.

Proper English beer is not served warm. It is served at room temperature just as it has been for the last few thousand years across the entire planet. Beer is only served cold in shithole countries because their beer actually does taste like horse p**s at room temperature.

That Anonymous Cowardsays:

"?We wish Glebe Farm total success in their plant-based journey moving forward,?"

pulls out the decoder ring
We still hope that what we cost them will damage their ability to compete in the market & serve as a warning to anyone else daring to enter the oat milk marketplace that clearly belongs only to us.

BurningWoodchippersays:

Trade dress?

Is it pink or blue?

Yeah, this trademark spat was ridiculous, but you could at least use a COLOR photo of the Oatly bottle – the blue they use, and the Pure Oaty blue are a lot closer together than your photo implies.

Yes, there are lots of other differences, but why pick a photo that’s mis-representative of the facts, when the rest of the story is strong?

https://us.oatly.com/collections/products/products/oatmilk

raugturisays:

Re: Re: Trade dress?

It’s also worth noting that the gray Oatly one is their barista coffee creamer, the most direct competitor to PureOaty’s product which also advertises as being best used for barista coffee. Oatly uses their blue-grey (which is very different from the blue used by PureOaty as you said) on their regular milk substitute.

Anonymoussays:

Unfortunate to see this type of company engaging in these suits. Dairy and beef farmers have tried to get laws passed that restrict plant based companies from using terms like milk and burgers and have succeeded in some places. You’d have hoped the plant based companies would have come to resent these arguments that effectively hinge on arguing the customer is too stupid to tell dairy/meat product A from plant based product B, yet here they are saying they’re too dumb to tell brand A from brand B entirely.

Jakobsays:

Trademarks must be protected

In some juristictions you must be seen to protect your trademark, or face the risk of loosing it.

Without the courts ruling that the two names are in fact dissimilar, a third party with a more similar product could later use Oatly’s lack response to the introduction of PureOaty to hollow out Oatly’s trademark. The third party might then reason in court that despite Oatly’s ownership they have failed to protect the trademark letting it fall into common use / public domain, thus allowing anyone to use names however similar for products equally similar.

Oatly may well wish Glebe Farms well with their product. Afterall, in the UK the loser in court pays the winners fees, and judging by the ridiculous nature of the suit they likely had no expectation to win, and no other motive than to be seen protecting their trademark as they are required to do if they wish to keep it.

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