Battle of the Bix’s; two leading breakfast cereals has wound up in the High Court in New Zealand
Christchurch based British food importer ‘A Little Bit of Britain’, is at the center of a crunchy trademark battle with cereal giant Sanitarium.
The cereal manufacturer which makes ‘Weetbix’ is taking legal action against a local shop owner who wants to import and sell the British cereal, ‘Weetabix’.
Sanitarium claimed customers could be misled on the basis that the imported version sounds practically identical to its own ‘Weetbix’ brand therefore making the cereal indistinguishable from its own.
During the dispute last year, Sanitarium requested customs officers to prevent shipment of Weetabix from entering the country in which they impounded a total of 108 boxes. Soon after, the cereal giant took the small British importer to court.
Yesterday, Justice Gendall found that as the cereal was only available in a store that specifically sold British goods, there was no chance of customers being misled therefore, it had not breached Newzelands Fair Trading Act. However, Gendall did find that the Trade Marks Act would be breached if the cereal was imported with such similarities of its name therefore the ‘Weetabix’ brand would need to be covered up if it were to sell in the British goods store in future.
Due to its findings of the Trade Marks Act breach, the court ordered the 108 cartons of Weetabix being held by customs to be destroyed – much to the delight of Rob Scoines, general manager of Sanitarium who welcomed the ruling by saying, "It's not so much about Little Bit of Britain selling Weetabix, but more about the protection of the Weet-Bix trademark,".
By Sena Tokel, a student at Southampton Solent University