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Bega and Kraft Battle Over Peanut Butter Packaging

Category: Trademark Information

A long-running legal battle over peanut butter jars has finally ended, with Australian food brand Bega Cheese prevailing over U.S. food giant Kraft Heinz. Bega Cheese now has exclusive rights to use the trademarked yellow label and lid with a blue or red peanut design, depending on the variant of peanut butter.

In a statement to the ASX (Australian Securities Exchange), Bega Cheese said that it was pleased with the decision, which ruled that Kraft Heinz’s use of similar-looking packaging is misleading or deceptive under Australian law.

“We look forward to continuing to produce and supply our customers with our much-loved peanut butter products,” the statement further said. However, the matter’s not over yet, with the court having to determine further orders and damages at a later date. Even so, the whole affair took almost 18 months to resolve. How did this peanut butter battle begin, in the first place?

Origins of the Legal Battle

Back in 2012, Australia’s Kraft peanut butter was owned by the U.S. food company Kraft. When the company split in two, it transferred its Australian operations to a new firm called Mondelez International.

In 2017, Australian-owned Bega bought most of Mondelez International’s Australia and New Zealand grocery and cheese business. The acquisition cost the Australian brand $460 million and consisted of ownership of Kraft-branded products, such as cheeses, mayonnaise, Vegemite and, yes, peanut butter. This included recipes and trade dress (an important identifier of a product, operating like a trademark).

Since the Kraft name wasn’t part of the acquisition, Bega Cheese simply replaced it with their own on the distinctive yellow jars. They also ran ads where they stated that “Kraft peanut butter is now Bega peanut butter” and “Never oily, never dry, with the same taste you’ve always loved and now is Aussie owned by Bega.”

This didn’t sit right with Kraft – now Kraft Heinz – who wanted to return to the Australian market and use their famous yellow jars exclusively. In 2017, they took Bega Cheese to court on trademark infringement allegations, first in New York then in Australia, arguing that the peanut butter trade dress wasn’t part of the acquisition.

Kraft alleged that Bega’s usage of the unique yellow jars was a “deliberate effort to trade off the goodwill of the Kraft brand, cause consumer confusion and irreparably harm the value of Kraft’s intellectual property”. They demanded that Bega drop the famous packaging – but Bega maintained that it now owns the brand’s intellectual property. They filed a crossclaim against Kraft over their re-entry into the peanut butter market.

While the cases were going on, Kraft cooked up a brand-new peanut butter formulation and, in 2018, began selling it in almost identical yellow-labelled jars. At the same time, Bega simply continued producing the original Kraft “never oily, never dry” recipe under the name Bega peanut butter.

Before the decision was made, both brands had the same look. Now, though, Kraft Heinz will have to redesign their peanut butter jars, since the court ruled that Bega Cheese acquired “all rights” to the peanut butter trade dress when it acquired Mondelez International. They had bought the trade dress fairly and squarely.

As a result, Bega Cheese is now exclusively entitled to the rights of “a jar with a yellow lid and a yellow label with a blue or red peanut device, with the jar having a brown appearance when filled.” Meanwhile, Kraft Heinz is “disappointed” and “considering its options.”

Are you looking to trademark something? Let Pinnacle TMS help. We are Australian trademark specialists who will keep your business brand safe from trademark infringements and more. Get in touch with us today and get a phone call consultation.

Four Celebrity Couples Who Tried to Trademark Their Children’s Names

Category: Trademark Information

What’s in a name? Apparently, according to these famous celebrities, a clothing line, toys, footwear, and other merchandising ventures. Trademarking names isn’t new in Hollywood – Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, and Kylie Jenner, among many others, have already successfully trademarked their own monikers as brands. Now, some of them are seeking the same treatment for their equally famous children. Here are just four celebrity couples who tried to trademark their offspring’s unique names.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z

In 2012, when Blue Ivy Carter was born, the baby girl’s power-couple parents attempted to trademark her name. As Jay-Z told Vanity Fair in 2013, the reason for this is so others couldn’t exploit it. “People wanted to make products based on our child’s name, and you don’t want anybody trying to benefit off your baby’s name,” he said. Alas, they were thwarted by Veronica Alexandra of Boston’s Blue Ivy Events, who filed her own trademark request. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office sided with the wedding planner since she had been operating since 2009, and the Carters walked away empty-handed (that time).

They tried again in 2016, this time to register Blue Ivy’s full name. In 2017, Bey and Jay also moved to trademark the names of their newborn twins, Sir and Rumi. Whether they’re successful this time is still up in the air.

Cardi B and Offset

On July 10, 2018, rappers Cardi B and Offset welcomed their first child, Kulture Kiari Cephus, into the world. Less than a month later they filed an application and it appears that they successfully registered her name for a number of trading rights, including merchandising for a clothing line and footwear, as well as musical recordings, motion pictures, entertainment marketing services, online video games, dance events, and fanclubs.

DJ Khaled and Nicole Tuck

“He’s the youngest, biggest mogul out there right now,” DJ Khaled said of his son, Asahd Khaled, during a 2017 interview with NME. Perhaps that’s why the rapper is seeking to trademark his son’s name. The trademark reportedly covers an array of enterprises, from jewelry and snack food to toy cars (the ones that children can drive) and toothpaste.

DJ Khaled didn’t stop there, though – in 2018, he filed a lawsuit against Business Moves Consulting and its boss Curtis Bordenave because they want to trademark the names “Asahd”, “Asahd Couture”, and “A.S.A.H.D A Son And His Dad”. The results of the lawsuit are still uncertain.

The Kardashian-Jenners

This famous family has filed several trademarks, from Khloé Kardashian’s “Koko Kollection” to Kourtney Kardashian’s “Kourt.” Now, the Kardashian-Jenner sisters – namely Kim, Khloé and Kylie – are moving to trademark their children’s names as well. Saint, North, and Chicago West, True Thompson, and Stormi Webster can expect their names to appear on a variety of products, including toys, skincare products, and even a clothing line. Stormi, in particular, can also make use of “Stormiworld,” which her famous mother aimed to trademark as well.

Trademarking children’s names is a celebrity practice that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. As we can see, the motives behind doing so are twofold: first reason, of course, is for branding – which ultimately is a financial motivation. When a name is registered, the name-owner can cash in through licensing. The second reason has more to do with privacy – registering a name means that a third party cannot use it for business and therefore cannot profit from it.

If you’re looking to trademark something, be it your own child’s name or your business name, you can turn to Pinnacle TMS. We are trademark specialists who will do all we can to protect your brand. Contact us today for a consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.

Addressing the Challenges in Business Rebranding

Category: Trademark Information

Every business relies on a distinct logo and words that signify their identity and the products/services they offer. A business’ logo and tagline are vital because they are what customers associate with the brand. Sometimes, though, preferences evolve, and you may want to consider rebranding.

A fresh image, especially for a business that’s transitioning into the digital world, is all well and good, especially if you aren’t doing so well and need new audiences. A new look, one that’s well-designed, executed and marketed may be the key to attracting new clients.

However, branding doesn’t happen in a snap. In fact, there are many ramifications that come with rebranding your business, so you must be prepared for them.

Trademark Search

Perhaps your rebranding involves a completely new business name. Of course, it’s only good practice to trademark your business name and logo.  A trademark protects the identity of your goods and services and prevents others from imitating your brand.

But what if the new name you chose has already been used and trademarked by another business operating in the same industry as you? That could spell trouble for your business. Before going through with rebranding, make sure you have the right to use the name you chose.

While you can simply check the Australian Trademarks Search System (or similar database in other countries) to make sure the exact brand name you want to use is available.   But if you intend spending significant time, money and energy into the new brand, you should have a Trademark Specialist confirm the new brand is available for you to use and register.   If your new brand name checks out, trademark everything you can afford to trademark: your business name, the name of your products, your slogan, even your own name used for business purposes. Ultimately, it costs less to trademark your brand than to lose everything related to your business.

Logo Protection

Along with changing your brand name, you’re likely to change or refresh the company’s logo as well. One of the things you should consider is the ownership of copyright. If you hired a team or a person outside your own company to design your logo, the copyright is technically theirs.

It is critical to make sure you have a contract between the company and the outsourced designers, which states that the ownership in copyright is yours. Afterwards, don’t forget to trademark the logo to ensure that no other business/competitor can use it.

Domain Name Availability

E-commerce and internet usage continue to be more popular among Australians and globally. According to The Australian Post, online shopping in the country reached eight per cent of total traditional retail sales in 2017. Additionally, about 20.7 million of Australia’s 24.3 million population in 2016 are internet users.

Because of the continuous growth of internet usage and online shopping, businesses must catch up by establishing their online presence with a website. As part of your rebranding, you may just now be creating your own site. Be mindful of this process, though. You first need to check if the domain name you’re interested in is available.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the organisation responsible for organising and maintaining databases of domain names. With many variations of domain names available, such as, and, it’s only good practice to conduct domain name searches to make sure your domain name is distinct from your competitor’s.

The decision to rebrand is not easy, but not impossible either. Sometimes, it’s even necessary. Although various processes are involved, especially when it comes to trademarks, you don’t need to worry.

Let Pinnacle TMS® help you with your trademark needs. We are Trademark Specialists who understand how challenging and confusing, but extremely important, trademarking your business is.

Visit Pinnacle TMS® or call us on 02 9520 4366 to start the process of protecting your business today.

What 2018 Taught Us in Protecting Our Business

Category: Trademark Information

2018’s trademark news taught us a thing or two about protecting our business’ intellectual property. Let’s refresh those lessons with this roundup.

February 2018
The Increasing Importance of Trademarks in the Digital Age

Misappropriating brands and products has never been easier with e-commerce and online sales technologies. Thankfully, online retail giants like Amazon are paving the way to protect vendors with registered trademarks. The Amazon Brand Registry, in particular, restricts other vendors from copying and selling products with other sellers’ registered trademarks. The efforts of big entities to protect brands against identity theft means that in order for businesses to be helped, they first have to register their trademark.

April 2018
How Apple Protects Its New Products and Brands with Trademarking Tactics

Companies can learn a lot from Apple’s trademarking tactics. As one of the biggest names across the globe, Apple has to double its efforts in protecting its products and brands.

Prior to launching a new line, the tech giant files for a trademark in countries whose system is not accessible through an online database. This prevents rivals from searching trademark offices around the world, keeping their new line a secret until it is unveiled. The tactic also takes advantage of US Trademark Act. Section 44, allowing businesses to register their trademark in a country before filing for registration in the US.

May 2018
What the Free Trade with the EU Means for Businesses in Australia

The Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement poses challenges and opportunities for Australia’s businesses. Australia’s businesses may be able to expand its market but they will have to find means to protect their brand internationally. Another pressing concern is that European farmers expect Australian farmers to follow the EU’s law on using geographical indicators such as parmesan and feta. Businesses who wish to penetrate the European market may need to rebrand, dropping key terms from their labels and secure global trademark registrations.

June 2018
6 Trademark Mistakes Startups Should Avoid

The impetus for start-ups to carve out a distinct identity is great. This, however, leads them to commit grave trademark mistakes that either leave them unprotected from brand identity theft or makes them liable for infringement issues. Just some of those grave mistakes are: failing to check if an aspect in their brand is a registered trademark; trademarking overly generic brand descriptors; assuming that having the ™ symbol is sufficient to protect the brand name; failing to assign trademark ownership properly and assuming that the trademark protects all goods or services.

July 2018
Do Trademark Laws Apply to Google AdWords?

Is it considered a trademark infringement if you use a trademarked term on Google AdWords?

The battle between Australia’s online shopping pioneers Catch Group and Kogan raised this question once again when Catch Group filed a complaint against Kogan for using the term ‘catch’ in its AdWords campaign. The court still does not have a verdict but the case reinforces one thing we already know: the best way to protect your trademarks is to have them registered. Like Amazon, Google is now protecting trademark owners allowing them to submit a dissatisfaction notice if someone uses their trademark in an ad’s text. Plus, provisions from the Trademarks Act and Australian Consumer Law give businesses more layers of protection.

August 2018
Not Applying for a Trademark Spells Disaster for Your Business

Applying for a trademark could mean either success or shut down for your business. Many business owners have their business name registered, build their business then discover much later that their name is trademarked by another entity. When escalated to the court, these business owners often find themselves needing to change their brand and paying for damages. If the infringement is sentenced as a crime, the court can order a six-figure fine or jail sentences.

September 2018
TV Chef James Cochran Battles Former Restaurant Over Trade Mark Name

Great British Menu Chef James Cochran found that he could no longer use his own name for business because his former employer trademarked the James Cochran name. The chef left his self-named restaurant James Cochran EC3 in April and discovered in August that his former employer Rayuela Limited is selling ‘James Cochran branded’ dishes. The parties then got into a row on Twitter, revealing disagreement between James and his employer prior to his resignation. Sadly for James, as his former employer formally registered the trademark, the company can profit from his name even if he is no longer affiliated with them.

November 2018
Using Do-It-Yourself or Online Trademark Registrations Can Be Disastrous

Online trademark registration companies have been popping up, offering easy solutions for companies to have their brand trademarked. Many of these companies, however, are scammers leaving businesses unprotected and at risk of infringement lawsuits.

There is also a rising number of business owners trying to DIY their trademark registration. Not familiar with the complexities of the process, owners find themselves spending more time and money on registration.

Overall, 2018 has shown us that despite the opportunities they provide, technology and globalisation creates challenges for businesses in protecting their brands. As legislation and tech companies policies are still adapting to changes, business owners must be more vigilant in protecting their brands.

Our advice?

Save yourself time, money, and energy, and work with Pinnacle TMS. We have extensive experience in helping our clients protect their brands in Australia and overseas. Contact us today for a consultation.

The Elements of Intellectual Property Legislation

Category: Trademark Information

If you want to protect your rights to something that you or your organisation have created or commissioned, be it a new product or service, a creative endeavour or any other kind of intellectual property, then you may find the terminology confusing if you’re not used to it. Indeed, much of it is used interchangeably (not always correctly) and there is a certain overlap between the areas of legislation.

Let’s take some of the main terms. The ‘trademark’ is an idea that has been around in some form since the first craftsmen put personal marks on their piecework to ensure they were paid for it. Most governments began to introduce trademark legislation in the 19th Century, when industrialisation and an increasingly global marketplace created a need for a clear legal framework for the exchange of goods and services.

A trademark is an image or a name, word or phrase that distinguishes goods (or services, although you may sometimes see the term ‘service mark, in this context) produced or provided by a specific party from those of any other.

While it is advisable to formally register your trademark, it is not actually necessary. The right to use a trademark is established mainly by using it.  So, if you are the owner of a well-known brand and a competitor gives their product a name which might be mistaken for yours, then you have a right to challenge them, regardless of whether your trademark is registered or not. However the benefit of a trade mark registration is that you do not have to gather evidence of your reputation in a brand.  Trade mark infringement action is readily available to stop a competitor copying your brand and trading on your hardearned reputation in the marketplace.

Unlike a trademark, which serves to protect a brand and can be renewed indefinitely, a ‘patent’ registration protects an invention or function of a product, for a limited time – generally 20 years. Different countries have different definitions of what constitutes a patentable invention. In general, to be acceptable for a patent, the invention must be genuinely innovative, useful (although that, of course is a rather subjective standard), and not so obvious that nobody has bothered to patent it before. An inventor who has developed a revolutionary gadget needs to secure a patent before approaching potential investors or business partners. If they do not, then they will have no rights over their invention if another party who sees the design and already has the manufacturing capabilities decides to make it for themselves and keep the profits!

Trademarks and patents are two of the most popular means for protecting different forms of ‘intellectual property’, which is basically anything that comes about as the result of human creativity and ingenuity. It includes intangible goods such as music and other creative works, many of which are protected by another branch of intellectual property law – copyright, as well as designs, inventions and developments in many other fields, such as new chemical compounds or plant varieties.

The issue of intellectual property is particularly relevant in the internet age. The ability to share data and bypass rights has sparked an often heated debate about the ethics of intellectual property ownership which shows no sign of abating.