Legal Blog: Kraft sues Britannia over 'Treat-O biscuit'

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Kraft sues Britannia over 'Treat-O biscuit'

Source : Economic Times

US-based packaged food maker Kraft Foods on Tuesday sued Nusli Wadia-owned Britannia Industries for trademark and copyright violations of its popular Oreo cookies. 

In a suit filed in the Delhi High Court , Kraft said Britannia’s recently-introduced Treat-O biscuit is a copy of its cream-filled sandwich cookies. 

The US firm has also sought an injunction to prevent Britannia from manufacturing, selling, marketing or advertising any product with any distinctive element of Oreo cookies. 

A Britannia spokesman refused comment saying the company has not received any communication on the issue so far. 

This is the second instance in four years when Britannia has been involved in a legal tussle with a multinational food company over trademark. It was, however, playing the role of a plaintiff in 2007 when it had dragged French food giant Danone to a Singapore court alleging trademark infringement of its Tiger biscuit. Subsequently, Danone ended its joint venture with Britannia and set up an independent company in India. 

In its suit, a copy of which was reviewed by ET, Kraft has sought damages for infringement of trademark and copyright, passing off and unfair competition of its ‘globally reputed’ Oreo brand of cookies. 

Oreo was registered in India in 1991 and is being imported and sold in the country ever since. 

Kraft said the Indian bakery and dairy products maker has copied the specific design etchings, such as florets and inner rings, of Oreo cookies. The company refers to the design etchings as ‘Oreo cookie trade dress’. 

“The lining on Britannia’s product, inner rings and florets and their placement on the product are identical to the original Oreo cookies,” Kraft said in the suit. 

It also alleged that the brand name, Treat-O, with an emphasis on ‘O’, is inspired by Oreo. 

Kraft’s lawsuit against Britannia comes at a time it is exploring options to locally manufacture and sell biscuits in the 11,000-crore Indian biscuit market. 

Kraft is being represented by IP Specialist Lall & Sethi.


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