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Nestlé was banned from advertising its plant-based burgers with the prefix “Incredible” in Europe after a Dutch court found the use of the word infringed the rights of the owner of the Impossible Foods brand.
Court documents show that the district court in The Hague last week ruled in favor of a US startup that is preparing to launch its «Impossible burger» (Impossible Burger) in Europe.
According to the preliminary ruling, Nestlé violates the rights to use the Impossible Burger trademark, which was registered in the European Union last year, naming its product «Incredible Burger». The court ruled that the words «impossible» and «incredible» sound and appear similar and may confuse customers when choosing a product.
Nestlé was given four weeks to recall their labeled products «Incredible» from retailers, otherwise they will face a fine of 25,000 euros ($ 27,700) per day for each of their 10 subsidiaries that are involved in the process.
«We are disappointed with this preliminary ruling, as we believe that everyone should be able to use descriptive terms such as «incredible», which explain the quality of the product», – Nestlé said in a statement. «We will, of course, adhere to this decision, but in parallel we will file an appeal», – he added.
Nestlé said it is preparing to launch a new burger recipe using a handle «Sensational» (Sensational). This name will apply to all products that previously used the word «Incredible» in Europe. In the US, the company markets its products under the brand name Awesome Burger (awesome burger).
Rising consumption of plant-based proteins has pushed renowned food manufacturers such as Nestlé, jump into the battle for market share while allowing new entrants like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat to expand rapidly. Impossible Foods received approximately $ 500 million in additional funding in March, suggesting investors are betting this trend will continue. Meat shortage in the United States related to production disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic has led to an even greater increase in the consumption of various products that mimic meat.
Nestlé reached out to Impossible Foods in the summer of 2018 to negotiate a possible licensing agreement for the Impossible Burger, under a ruling that sets out the legal reasoning made by Impossible Foods.
The global food giant announced the launch «Incredible burger», while these negotiations were still ongoing, which raised suspicions that he was trying «thwart a successful launch» «Impossible burger» in Europe, established by the court.
Nestlé, previously seeking to invalidate the Impossible Burger trademark, it launched its Incredible Burger in Europe in April 2019 under its Garden Gourmet brand. This was followed by the September launch of Awesome Burger in the United States..
Impossible Foods contacted Nestl in January 2019é USA with a warning that «Incredible Burger» violates the rights to use the trademark «Impossible burger» in America.
In line with the ruling, Impossible Foods is awaiting a European regulatory opinion on the safety of the food and genetically modified ingredients in its burger.. «Impossible burger» contains soy leghemoglobin, a genetically modified yeast that makes it taste like meat.
American startup filed similar injunctions against Nestlé in German regional courts last year, but withdrew them after the courts told them they would not be accepted.
In a statement «Impossible Foods» it says they welcome efforts to develop plant-based products but don’t want consumers to be confused. «We are grateful that the court recognized the importance of our brands and supported our efforts to protect our brand from encroachment by the powerful multinational giant.», – said the general counsel Dana Wagner.