UK vegan snack brand, The Primal Pantry, has been threatened with legal action by corporate chocolate company Mondelez International over the colour of its packaging.
The Primal Pantry recieved a letter from Mondelez asking it to “cease and desist” selling its Cocoa Real Food Bars in the EU, or face legal action.
Mondelez, according to The Primal Pantry, claims that the packaging imitates the colour of its Milka chocolate bars and that the similarity will cause consumer confusion between the two products and damage to its global brand.
The Primal Pantry have said that it does not infringe on the Milka trademark, and that it has failed to get any response from the legal team at Mondelez.
The small business also said it has been given two choice by Mondelez’s lawyers: first, to ‘cease and desist’. This would involve immediately recalling all products from the EU marketplace. The second is facing a lengthy legal battle. Both outcomes have an imposed deadline of the 30th September 2021, giving two weeks’ notice.
Mondelez International owns an EU trademark for a specific shade of purple for its brand Milka. However, The Primal Pantry believes it is not infringing on this due to the difference in colour of the Cocoa Real Food Bars packaging, and say it has sent the relevant references to Mondelez to prove this.
The Primal Pantry also sells vegan snacks, made from just seeds, fruit and cocoa, which it says are nothing like Milka chocolate confectionary, and therefore do not compete in the same category.
“The accusations regarding the colour are extremely tenuous, but what I am most surprised about is the lack of effort to engage in conversation by Mondelez, either before or after we received the letter” said Adam Draper, managing director of Nurture Brands, owner of The Primal Pantry.
“Mondelez claim on their corporate website that they “do what’s right” but we think these heavy-handed, pressure tactics against small businesses are deplorable and they shouldn’t be able to get away with it.”
The business has taken to social media, with posts on Instagram and LinkedIn receiving support from other smaller business, like Tony’s Chocolonely.
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In an Instagram comment, Tony’s Chocolonely UK and Ireland wrote: “how about spending more time working out how to pay cocoa farmers a living income instead of legal action against the little guys!”.
“We may be the underdog in this situation but that doesn’t mean we won’t stand up for ourselves and other small businesses who have been here before,” said Draper.
“We will not be bullied by Mondelez International, and their claims that we are exploiting and dissolving the awareness of their Milka brand, misleading the public and taking unfair advantage of their brand’s reputation are laughable. My request is for someone at their company to call me so we can try and resolve this using common sense rather than lawyers”.
A representative for Mondelez International told B&T that, “we own a colour trademark in Europe for the distinctive lilac Milka colour for food products.”
“As a matter of practice, to protect the values of our brands which we have worked hard to build over hundreds of years, we express our concerns to third parties when we feel they are using a protected brand element. We have opened up conversations with Primal Pantry to try and resolve the matter amicably.”
Back in 2019, Cabury – which is owned by Mondelez – had its twenty year trademark over the colour purple ended after losing an appeal in the UK Court of Appeal.
Featured Imaged: The Primal Pantry
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