UPDATED: 5th August 2021
The post below was originally written in June 2021. We now have the Judgment in from the High Court and Glebe Farm have been successful (as I predicted below) in defending the claim by Oatly.
The judge found that there is no likelihood of confusion between the PUREOATY name and look of the carton, and any of the Oatly trade marks. Further, the judge ruled against Oatly’s allegation that Glebe Farm intended to gain some unfair advantage, and having reviewed all the evidence and contemporaneous documents he was fully satisfied that there was no intention as attributed by Oatly.
The Swedish oat milk brand Oatly is seeking to stop an apparent competitor Glebe Farm Foods.
In a claim in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, Oatly claims trade mark infringement and passing off. Oatly, who originate from Malmo Sweden, recently floated on the New York Stock Exchange valuing the business at $15 billion, is asking the court for an injunction to stop sales of the PureOaty brand along with damages and payment of legal costs.
Glebe Farm, business worth <£5m, apparently specialises in growing gluten-free oats, says its own brand launched in 2020 called PureOaty simply “calls to mind the concepts of purity and oatiness”.
Glebe rebranded its Oat Drink product as PureOatly in 2020 and Oatly say that its “intention was to bring Oatly’s products to mind and thereby benefit from the huge power of attraction and reputation of Oatly’s branding”.
Oatly’s lawyers claim that PureOaty’s blue packaging is clearly referencing the Oatly get up, and inclusion of a teacup is designed to look similar. PureOaty responds by saying these were just generic features and descriptive.
Glebe denies deliberate free riding and says that the Oatly claim should be dismissed.
This is not a particularly interesting or unique case, and something which is seen by trademark infringement lawyers like me all the time. The question for the judge is – is there a likelihood the public will be confused between the two brands. It’s no different to the Colin the Caterpillar case recently.
So what’s my view; looking at the two product designs, there seems to be sufficient difference to me that it is clear they are two different brands. An I’m not an average consumer in this market, having never purchased oat milk of any type, so someone who had purchased oat milks in the past would, I should think, know the difference.
Stay tuned for the outcome!