Quest LegalArticle: Kraft Cheesed Off With Bega

June 20, 2019

Bega has won a long running legal battle with Kraft of the USA. Justice David O’Callaghan (Federal Court of Australia – Melbourne) recently ruled in favour of Bega over the use of Yellow coloured lids and distinctive jars on its peanut products which bear a striking resemblance to those of Kraft.

The litigation arose following a series of takeovers which began when international conglomerate Heinz bought Kraft and then moved the Australian Kraft products under the umbrella of their local subsidiary Mondelez Australia which was subsequently acquired by Bega. Kraft argued that the distinctive ‘trade dress’ was not Mondelez’s to sell. A trade dress is akin to a trade mark which in this case revolved around the yellow coloured lid and distinctive jar used by both companies.

Justice O’Callaghan ruled that while Bega and Kraft had each breached consumer law in their advertising and that goodwill generated by trademark branding had benefited both Kraft and subsequently Mondelez, all branding rights had been transferred to Bega as part of the 2017 sale process. This judgement is considered significant because it affirms the value of unregistered trade marks (such as trade dress) to be an integral part of business ‘goodwill’.

With this victory Bega can continue using the current distinctive packaging as it implements its plan to become a significant player in the Australian food sector and particularly the many millions of dollars Australians spend annually on peanut butter.