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What’s In A Name?

By Bernie Bell

My husband Mike has an intolerance to Lactose, so he uses plant-based alternatives to cow’s milk, of which there are a variety available – some more palatable than others!

I stick to dairy, as I’ve yet to find a plant-based ‘milk’ that I like the taste of.

One of the non-dairy products Mike used was ‘Oatly’ – but not any longer!

It turns out that Oatly are presently suing a family run oat milk company in Cambridgeshire.  Oatly maintain an HQ in Sweden, but they are a multinational corporation with wealthy, influential investors, including the Chinese State-owned conglomerate China Resources. 

Lauding themselves as “the world’s original and largest oatmilk company”, with $447 Million LTM Q1 revenue32,200+ coffee shops, 60,000 retail doors and 9 planned production facilities by 2023,  lawyers for Oatly sought a High Court injunction to stop Glebe Farm Foods selling its PureOaty brand. 

This David & Goliath struggle featured in a BBC article on the 10th of June 2021.  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-57425162

Oatly’s gripe is that they think the name ‘PureOaty’ infringes on their Trademark, and they expect Farmer Philip Rayner of Glebe Farm to stop using the PureOaty brand name and change his packaging. As a small company it would  cost them money they can probably ill afford to redesign and change their packaging and publicity material. Never mind the cost of the law suit.

The name isn’t really all that similar – or do ‘Oatly’ think they own the word ‘Oat’?

This is another example of big business – really big business, bullying a small producer or company.

I don’t like bullying in any shape or form and so Mike and I signed a petition asking Oatly to drop their law suit https://www.change.org/p/blackstone-group-we-would-like-oatly-to-renege-its-injunction-on-glebe-farms-immediately-freepureoaty.  And…..we don’t intend to buy their product again.

All in all, Oatly have probably done more harm to their business by taking this action than would have come from the smaller company having a vaguely similar name. And serve them right if that is so!

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