Oatly Wins Legal Battle To Use ‘Post Milk Generation’ Slogan

Dairy UK had argued that the phrase used by Oatly was unlawful


3 Minutes Read

Lines of Oatly bottles, which will now be able to feature the slogan 'Post Milk Generation' Oatly cartons can use the slogan "Post Milk Generation" following a successful legal battle against Dairy UK - Media Credit: Richard Levine / Alamy Stock Photo

Plant-based milk brand Oatly has won a landmark legal battle against Dairy UK over the right to use the word “milk” in the marketing of its products.

Oat milk brand Oatly is known for its extravagant messaging and eye-catching packages. The Swedish company registered the slogan “Post Milk Generation” in 2019.

However, Dairy UK, the trade association of the British dairy industry, soon challenged the trademark. It argued that the term could not be used “in relation to products that are not mammary secretions.”

Now, after a four-year legal battle, the High Court has given Oatly the go-ahead to use “Post Milk Generation.”

The ruling follows similar battles over the use of “meaty” labels on plant-based food and drink products across Europe.

Oatly wins in the High Court

Dairy UK had relied on European Court regulations from 2013 in the legal battle.

It had argued against Oatly’s trademark using a regulation that restricts the use of the word “milk” on food packaging. This regulation also grants protected status to dairy products.

However, lawyers for Oatly successfully argued that “Post Milk Generation” does not breach the regulation because it describes the likely consumer rather than the product.

Justice Richard Smith rejected Dairy UK’s claims that Oatly’s use of the term could cause confusion. Instead, he ruled that Oatly’s slogan makes it clear that the products are “for consumers who no longer consume dairy milk.”

Losing battle for dying dairy industry

Cows in a field used to produce dairy milk
Adobe Stock Dairy UK had argued that Oatly’s slogan “Post Milk Generation” might confuse consumers

Dairy UK describes itself as “the voice of the UK dairy industry.” Its board includes bosses from milk and cheese giants such as Arla and Dale Farm.

The tide seems to be turning on the dairy industry. In the UK, a third of people now consume plant-based milks, with more consumers now shunning dairy for ethical, environmental, and health reasons.

Investigations have revealed “harrowing” abuses at Red Tractor-approved farms. Dairy consumption has also been linked to an array of health problems. Add to that dairy’s significant greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and consumers are choosing kinder, healthier, and more environmentally friendly alternatives.

To fight back, Dairy UK is desperate to drive down demand for plant-based milk alternatives.

Elsewhere in Europe, the meat and dairy industry has had more success in blocking plant-based labels.

In Poland, the government recently drafted a decree that would ban “meaty” words from labels of plant-based meat products. The move followed similar attempts to censor vegan products in EU countries including France and Italy.

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