Multinational confectionery firm Mondelez International has issued a legal warning to Primal Pantry, an independent vegan snack manufacturer based in London, over the latter’s use of lilac packaging for its cocoa bar. Mondelez argues that the packaging infringes on the trademark of its Milka chocolate range and has threatened a substantial penalty of £5,200 for each instance of infringement. Nurture Brands, Primal Pantry’s parent company, denies causing any harm to Mondelez’s well-established brand or trademarks.
Adam Draper, Managing Director of Nurture Brands, explained that the snack bars were designed in 2016 with an array of colours for good shelf differentiation, with no intention of imitating or even approaching the trademark colouring of another brand. Despite Mondelez’s legal letter asserting potential infringement due to similar packaging colours, Mr Draper claims that no evidence has been provided to demonstrate a breach of Milka’s branding rights and regulations. Nurture Brands, headquartered in London with 26 employees and production facilities in northern England, has been distributing plant-based snacks throughout Europe since its launch two years ago.
Mr Draper expressed his frustration at Mondelez’s lack of research, noting his willingness to cooperate if evidence were provided that the colour falls within the protected range. However, he is unwilling to “throw away all [their] products in the EU.” The estimated costs of recalling and disposing of existing packaging range from £30,000 to £50,000, excluding potential fines. Mondelez has granted Nurture Brands a six-month window to alter its product packaging.
Mondelez International, an American-based company with a portfolio that includes Toblerone, Oreo, Cadbury, and Kenco, experienced a setback in 2019 when it lost an appeal to protect its trademark purple colour used for chocolate bar wrappers. In response to the current dispute, a Mondelez spokesperson stated: “Our brand values are something we have invested many years into developing, so it’s only natural that when other companies appear to be utilising one of our protected elements, then we express concern.” The spokesperson also highlighted that Mondelez owns the distinctive lilac Milka colour within Europe, specifically for food-related items.
Efforts have been made to contact Primal Pantry to reach a mutually agreeable resolution through open dialogue.