Cognate's Trademark Blog

Cereal Battle, NZ Store “A Little Bit of Britain” in Weetabix , Weetbix Drama

No wonder Sanitarium are holding up the Weetabix shipment.. they know in themselves that it is a much yummier cereal.

Here’s another TM storm in a teacup that makes us shake out head in disbelief

Newshub NZ reports..

A legal battle between cereal giant Sanitarium and a New Zealand-based grocery store is headed to court on Monday to resolve whether boxes of seized Weetabix can be released. 

A Little Bit of Britain, a store in Canterbury’s Riccarton, Kaiapoi and also online, tried to import boxes of British cereal Weetabix from the UK in August last year. 

But the product was deemed too similar to Sanitarium’s cereal brand Weet-Bix, and the company stopped the shipment of 360 Weetabix boxes at the border, after claims the British cereal’s name infringed its trademark. 

After the imports were stopped, A Little Bit of Britain shop-owner Lisa Wilson was told a High Court ruling was required to release the seized boxes. 

A court date to settle the dispute was set for Monday July 30, almost a year after the boxes were seized. Ms Wilson had expected the hearing to come much sooner. 

Sanitarium general manager Rob Scoines said last year the company had offered Ms Wilson options, including relabeling the product at Sanitarium’s cost, purchasing the shipment, or relabeling it an donating it to a food bank, Stuff reported. 

“We have worked hard to reach a resolution with A Little Bit of Britain and enter an agreement similar to those we have in place with other Weetabix importers,” Sanitarium said in a statement. 

“Unfortunately, we have no other option than to seek a resolution through the courts.”

An online petition was started by A Little Bit of Britain to have the products released. The petition has so far received 1762 signatures, calling for the Weetabix to be “back on the shelves”. 

“We have imported and paid for these goods and have lots of customers awaiting its arrival. We are not willing to agree to crossing out the name on the box, and wish for them to release the shipment,” the petition says. 

Ms Wilson has said she’s optimistic Weetabix is not a trademark infringement under the Trade Marks Act 2002. She said it would only pass as a trademark infringement if the store tried to pass off the product as Weet-Bix. 

Source:  https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2018/07/ruling-likely-on-canterbury-store-s-legal-spat-with-weet-bix-owner-sanitarium.html

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