Sep 25, 2018

Weetabix sidelined by Weet-bix in New Zealand

A British shop in New Zealand called 'A Little Bit of Britain' has lost its battle against breakfast cereal producer Sanitarium. We previously reported the story here in August 2018, when the accusations against the British shop were first made.

A Little Bit of Britain, based in Canterbury, New Zealand, sell well-known imported British foods aimed at British expats. In 2017, the co-owner Lisa Wilson decided to add the British cereal Weetabix to her range. However, her shipment of the cereal was flagged and confiscated by customs officials following a complaint of trademark infringement from the Weet-bix manufacturer Sanitarium.

Mr Justice David Gendall of the High Court of New Zealand sided with Sanitarium and agreed with their accusations of trademark infringement. Sanitarium had argued that customers would be confused between the name 'Weetabix' and their own product 'Weet-Bix'. However, the judge found no chance of customers being confused between the two products as Weetabix was a British product and was therefore only available at a specialty food stores in New Zealand like A Little Bit of Britain.

The judge also ruled that the boxes of Weetabix held by customs must be destroyed whilst the remaining boxes for sale in the shop must have their labels covered. Although the judge found that the British shop had complied with the Fair-Trading Act when importing the cereal, no more will be permitted to be imported into the country.

Wilson accused the multimillion-dollar company of "bullying" her small family business. It was reported that other British goods stores in New Zealand have complied with Sanitarium's demands to cover the Weetabix label when selling the product. British expats have been outraged at the detained shipment of Weetabix and some even said they would start boycotting Sanitarium's products in New Zealand.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.

Posted by: in: EU/International, Trade Marks

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