A family farm in Cambridgeshire, England just won its legal battle against international vegan milk brand Oatly.
The Swedish oat milk company – which sells its products in 60,000 retail stores – sued Glebe Farm Foods earlier this year over alleged trademark infringement.
Glebe Farm Foods
Glebe Farm Foods is a 30-year-old oat milling business that began making oat milk last year.
Oatly accused the family farm of using similar packaging to sell its dairy-free milk. It also claimed Glebe Farm’s brand name, PureOaty, was too similar to its own.
Oatly requested that the business change its packaging and name, and sought damages and costs.
Today the High Court voted in favor of PureOaty, concluding that consumers are unlikely to confuse the two companies.
It also disagreed with the claim that Glebe Farm intentionally tried to mimic Oatly’s packaging.
Philip Rayner, owner of Glebe Farm, said: “It is enormously gratifying that the judge has ruled in our favour, and to see that smaller independent companies can fight back and win.”
Jeremy Blum led the Bristows legal team that represented the family farm.
“The result is hugely satisfying for a great British manufacturer who stuck to its principles in defending its right to use descriptive elements in its branding,” Blum commented.
“Further, the decision confirms how the creation of PureOaty was not done to gain any unfair advantage. I am delighted for our client”.
Oatly faces backlash
Many people criticized the oat milk giant for the lawsuit. When news broke that Oatly was taking Glebe Farm to court, a petition was created to show support for the small business. It amassed 130,000 signatures.
A spokesperson for Oatly said: “For all of you who have been following our case with Glebe Farm, well the verdict is in, and we lost. And while to some, this might be seen as vindication for small oat drink companies over big oat drink companies, we actually never saw it that way.
“For us, this case has always been about protecting our trademark and how the single letter Y creates too much of a similarity between OATY and OATLY.”
They added: “If we were to let one company pass because they, like Glebe Farm, seem to be one of the good guys, that might leave the door open for the bad ones.”
The spokesperson clarified that Oatly ‘loves all oat drink companies’ and did not file the lawsuit to damage the company.
“In fact, we want them to thrive and help bring products into the world that are good for the planet. We just think they should do so in their own unique voice, just like we do,” they said, adding that Oatly wishes Glebe Farm ‘total success’.