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.
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.