Multinational chocolate producer, Mondelez International, has alleged Nurture Brands, owner of the ‘The Primal Pantry’ range of vegan snack bars, has “exploited” its Milka chocolate brand.
Lawyers for Mondelez have sent Nurture Brands a cease and desist letter which reportedly demanded it remove its lilac-packaged Real Food Cocoa bars from the EU market and cease future use of the packaging.
In a post on Nurture Brands’ website, it reports that Mondelez claim Primal Pantry’s product imitates the Milka brand through its use of lilac colours “identical” to Milka’s trade mark on its packaging, which they claim are “confusing” to consumers.
Nurture Brands said it does not believe its packaging is “close enough” to warrant removal of the product from shelves across the EU.
According to The Grocer, Nurture Brands’ managing director, Adam Draper, said the removal of the bars from the market would be “costly and wasteful”.
He added: “We’re a small exporter, we sell through a distributor, we sell them mainly in coffee shops. We’re not a chocolate bar, we’re a healthy snack bar made with dates”.
The BBC reported Mondelez has given Nurture Brands six months to change the packaging. However, to recall the products and remove all existing packaging could cost between £30,000 and £50,000, said Draper.
Mondelez has reportedly threatened Nurture Brands with a £5,200 fine each time the trade mark is infringed.
A spokesperson for Mondelez said: "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."
Partner and head of the brands group at Mishcon de Reya, Sally Britton, commented on the unfolding dispute: "The Primal Pantry's response to Mondelez International's letter highlights the importance of aligning your approach to enforcement with your marketing and business strategy.
“Whilst Mondelez, the owners of Milka, may have no choice but to defend their rights in the colour lilac, The Primal Pantry have responded with a social media campaign contrasting Mondelez' alleged ‘lawyers first’ approach requesting the immediate withdrawal of The Primal Pantry Product with Mondelez's stated values and environmental strategy."