Family-owned coffee brand Vittoria has lodged a cross-claim against the Dutch owners of Moccona, who are taking the Australian company to court alleging the brand’s new 400g instant coffee glass jar infringes its trademark.
Having been hit with the initial lawsuit in February, Vittoria launched a cross-claim in March in an attempt to get Moccona parent Koninklijke Douwe Egberts’ (KDE) trademark cancelled, alleging it is ‘not inherently adapted to distinguish and/or did not in fact distinguish their container from other containers’.
Sydney-based Vittoria - an Australian family-owned business since 1947 - also alleges that KDE’s use of the container is ‘use as a functional container, not use as a trademark’, and that the IP registrar accepted the registration on the ‘basis of evidence or representations that were false’.
“This is not the first time Vittoria has had to defend itself in intellectual property disputes, and Vittoria will again defend its position in this case,” Vittoria said.
“We are proud to develop quality and innovative products which offer more choice to customers.
“For a very long period of time, the freeze-dried instant coffee category was dominated by a small number of large multinational organisations.”
The initial case from KDE arose after Vittoria made its move into a new segment during COVID-19 being freeze-dried instant coffee, created to satiate the palates of customers who couldn’t get their hit with cafes closed nationwide.
After launching its initial 100g instant freeze-dried coffee product in four blends, Vittoria decided to launch a 400g version in a glass jar, sold through retailer Coles exclusively.
This led to KDE commencing court action, alleging infringement of its trade mark for a container of a particular shape. The company also alleges Vittoria is engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct, and passing off.
In a statement from the Vittoria team sent to Business News Australia, the spokesperson said the company was thankful for the public support it has received to date.
“JDE are an international coffee giant, the biggest in the world, who own brands such as Moccona, Harris, Campos and L’Or and they now want to stop the last major Australian family-owned coffee company in retail in offering consumers choice and quality coffee in the instant 400g segment which is a $100 million category, that Moccona have had a monopoly in for many years,” the spokesperson said.
“You don’t get Moccona being served in cafes, restaurants or five-star hotels like Vittoria. So, the issue of trying to pass off on Moccona’s instant coffee reputation is not something Vittoria would ever want.
“Australian consumers are smart and can tell the difference between the Vittoria brand and the Moccona brand and the difference in the jars.”
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