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Swedish oat milk brand Oatly has been denied a trademark for its favorite logline ‘It’s Like Milk But Made For Humans’.

The European Trademark Office (EUIPO) has now twice denied the trademark in relation to Oatly’s products.

‘People know that cow’s milk is for calves’

EUIPO said: “There is a belief in society today that milk is not good for the human body…[people are] well aware that for e.g. cow’s milk is food for calves.”

The average consumer in the English speaking parts of the European Union holds this view, in EUIPO’s opinion.

As Oatly puts it, essentially, the EUIPO has made its ruling on the basis that ‘the average person in an English speaking EU market understands milk is, in fact, intended for calves’.

Alternative to cow’s milk

In a press release sent to PBN, Oatly said: “You may think that our initial reaction to this was to jump for joy. After all, this is what we have been saying since the 90s. 

“It’s one of the things that prompted us to start Oatly in the first place. A drive to create a tasty, nutritious alternative to cow’s milk that is specifically designed for humans. [And which] didn’t need to travel through the body of another creature first.”

‘Misleading people’

Further confusing the issue is the reaction to the same campaign when it initially launched.

Oatly first used the logline in Sweden in 2014.

As a result, the Swedish Dairy Association successfully sued. The court ruled that Oatly was ‘misleading people’. It also said it was ‘scaring them into thinking cow’s milk is dangerous’ through its use of this line.

‘For baby cows’

This contradicts EUIPO’s decision saying the average person in an English speaking EU market understands milk is intended for calves. Oatly has described this contradiction as ‘confusing’.

The brand said: “We are now as confused as you probably are. After all, we’re pretty sure our job isn’t done yet. 

“Does the ‘average consumer’ (whoever that is) really believe that milk is not good for their body and is meant for baby cows?

“At the same time, in a society that (apparently) believes that milk is not good for the human body, here in the UK there are still government-funded campaigns pushing for the consumption of more dairy. Makes sense right?”

Oatly is now taking its case to the General Court and awaits its decision.

Maria Chiorando

Maria is a news and features writer for Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. She was previously the editor of Plant Based News for over 3 years.