British vegan snack brand The Primal Pantry has faced legal action against the chocolate company Mondelez International over the color of its packaging.
The Primal Pantry received a letter from Mondelez asking it to “cease and desist” from selling its real cocoa bars in the EU, or face legal action.
Mondelez, according to The Primal Pantry, says the packaging mimics the color of its Milka chocolate bars and the similarity will lead to consumer confusion between the two products and damage to its global brand.
The Primal Pantry has stated that it does not infringe the Milka mark and has received no response from Mondelez’s legal team.
The small business also said Mondelez’s lawyers gave it two choices: First, “cease and desist.” This would imply the immediate recall of all products from the EU market. The second faces a long legal battle. Both results have an imposed deadline of September 30, 2021, with two weeks notice.
Mondelez International has a European brand for a specific shade of purple for its Milka brand. However, The Primal Pantry believes it is not violating this due to the color difference in the packaging of Cocoa Real Food Bars, and says it sent the relevant references to Mondelez to prove it.
The Primal Pantry also sells vegan snacks, made only from seeds, fruits and cocoa, which it says bears no resemblance to Milka chocolate confectionery and therefore does not compete in the same category.
“The accusations regarding the color are extremely tenuous, but what surprises me most is the lack of effort to initiate the conversation from Mondelez, either before or after receiving the letter,” said Adam Draper, CEO of Nurture Brands, owner of The Primal Pantry.
“Mondelez claims on their corporate website that they are ‘doing the right thing’, but we think these brutal lobbying tactics against small businesses are deplorable and they shouldn’t be able to get away with it. “
The company has taken to social media, with posts on Instagram and LinkedIn receiving support from other small businesses, like Tony’s Chocolonely.
In an Instagram comment, Tony’s Chocolonely UK and Ireland wrote: “How about spending more time thinking about how to pay a living income to cocoa farmers instead of taking legal action against the small ones? guys ! “.
“We might be the underdog in this situation, but that doesn’t mean we won’t stand up for ourselves and other small businesses that have come here before,” Draper said.
“We will not be intimidated by Mondelez International, and their claims that we exploit and dissolve their Milka brand awareness, mislead the public and unfairly take advantage of their brand reputation is ludicrous. My request is that someone from their company call me so that we can try to solve this problem using common sense rather than lawyers ”.
A representative of Mondelez International said B&T that, “wWe own a color brand in Europe for the distinctive Milka lilac color for food products.
“In practice, to protect the values of our brands that we have worked hard to build over hundreds of years, we express our concerns to third parties when we believe they are using a protected brand element. We have opened conversations with Primal Pantry to try to resolve the issue amicably.
In 2019, Cabury – which is owned by Mondelez – saw its twenty-year trademark on the color purple come to an end after losing an appeal to the UK Court of Appeal.
Featured Image: The Primal Pantry