Family-run farm near Peterborough wins court battle with drinks giant Oatly

Oat milk giant Oatly has lost its legal battle over a trademark dispute with a small farm near Peterborough.

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 12:21 pm
Glebe Farm owners Phillip Rayner and Rebecca Rayner.

The Sweden-headquartered Oatly, which is building a state-of-the-art production hub at Peterborough Gateway creating hundreds of jobs, had claimed a product called PureOaty that was made and marketed by the family-run Glebe Farm 18 months ago represented a trademark infringement.

It had taken the dispute to the Royal Courts of Justice in a bid to secure an injunction to stop the farm at King’s Ripton selling PureOaty and for a recall of all infringing goods.

But following a two day hearing, a judge, while recognising Oatly’s strong brand and uniqueness, has ruled in favour of the farm stating the similarities between Oatly’s and Glebe Farm’s packaging, were not great enough to grant an injunction.

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The Oatly branding, left, and Glebe Farm's packaging, right.

Afterwards, Phillip Rayner, owner and managing director of Glebe Farm, said: “It is enormously gratifying that the judge has ruled in our favour, and to see that smaller independent companies can fight back and win.

“We have had the threat of this court case - which has pitched our challenger brand against Oatly’s multinational business - looming over us for more than a year.

“We have always felt certain that we have done nothing wrong, and we were determined to fight Oatly’s claims that our brands were similar - something that is now proven to be wrong.

“You only need to look at the two products and packaging side by side to appreciate how different these brands are, and how unnecessary this legal action was.

He said: “We’d like to think growth opportunities come from positivity in broadening sector choice, rather than from trying to shut things down and limiting consumer options.

“All of us at Glebe Farm are excited to put this matter behind us now so we can focus our time on serving our loyal customers and the British public with pure, sustainable oats and oat milk without corporate lawsuits distracting from our day-to-day priorities.

Mr Rayner also thanked supporters world-wide who had backed the farm.

He said: “We greatly appreciate the huge support that PureOaty and Glebe Farm have received from around the world including 130,000 signatures on a change.org petition, and many comments online have described this as a true David and Goliath battle.

A spokesperson for Oatly said: “While to some, this might be seen as vindication for small oat drink companies over big oat drink companies, we actually never saw it that way.

“For us, this case has always been about protecting our trademark and how the single letter Y creates too much of a similarity between OATY and OATLY.

“If we were to let one company pass because they, like Glebe Farm, seem to be one of the good guys, that might leave the door open for the bad ones.

“Truth is, we love all oat drink companies and never brought this case to damage Glebe Farm. In fact, we want them to thrive and help bring products into the world that are good for the planet.

“We just think they should do so in their own unique voice, just like we do.

“And while we would have preferred a different result, we fully accept the court’s decision and will not make an appeal.

“We wish Glebe Farm total success in their plant-based journey moving forward.”

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