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Oatly wins four-year court battle against Dairy UK to keep the word 'milk' on its vegan packaging

Source: The DairyNews
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In a significant legal triumph, Oatly, the renowned plant-based food giant, has secured a decisive victory in a four-year court battle against Dairy UK, the trade association representing the British dairy industry. The dispute centered around Oatly's right to use the term 'milk' on its vegan product packaging, particularly the slogan 'Post Milk Generation.'
Oatly wins four-year court battle against Dairy UK to keep the word 'milk' on its vegan packaging
Dairy UK, invoking pre-Brexit European Court regulations, contended that labeling non-dairy products as 'milk' was unlawful. Citing restrictions on the use of the word 'milk' in marketing and packaging of food and beverages, Dairy UK aimed to prevent Oatly from using the term.

However, High Court Judge Richard Smith ruled in favor of Oatly, affirming the validity of the trademark for the use of 'milk' on Oatly products. Judge Smith dismissed the notion that 'milk' should be prohibited on non-dairy packaging, asserting that consumers would perceive Oatly's products as catering to those who no longer consume dairy milk.

Oatly, renowned for its oat-based milk substitute and a range of vegan products, initially secured the trademark for the 'Post Milk Generation' slogan in 2019. Dairy UK later objected, prompting a legal battle.

The court heard that Oatly had been granted a trademark for the slogan on T-shirts only, with an Intellectual Property Office (IPO) officer expressing concerns about potential consumer confusion. While the IPO officer denied the trademark for food and drink, Judge Smith overturned this decision, emphasizing that the trademark did not describe the product and was unlikely to confuse consumers.

In the ruling, Judge Smith highlighted Oatly's position that the trademark, including the word 'milk,' did not claim, imply, or suggest that its products were dairy items. The judge underscored the crucial point that the mark was not used to describe a specific product but rather indicated a source.

This landmark decision reinforces Oatly's right to use the term 'milk' on its plant-based products and sets a precedent in the ongoing debate over labeling and terminology in the rapidly growing plant-based food industry.
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