Impossible Foods forces Nestlé to stop selling ‘amazing burgers’ in Europe

Impossible Foods forces Nestlé to stop selling 'amazing burgers' in Europe
The Hague District Court last week issued an injunction in favor of the American startup, which is preparing to launch its Impossible burger in Europe, they show court documents.

According to a preliminary ruling, Nestlé infringed the Impossible Burger trademark, which was registered in the European Union last year, by calling its product Incredible Burger. The court said the words “impossible” and “incredible” sound and seem similar, and the overlap could confuse clients.

Nestle (NSRGF) You have been given four weeks to withdraw your “Incredibles” products from retailers or face fines of € 25,000 ($ 27,700) per day for each of its 10 subsidiary companies involved in the case.

“We are disappointed by this interim decision as we believe that anyone should be able to use descriptive terms like ‘incredible’ that explain the qualities of a product,” Nestlé said in a statement. “Of course, we will comply with this decision, but in parallel, we will file an appeal,” he added.

Nestlé said it was preparing to launch a new hamburger recipe using the descriptor “Sensational.” It will apply that name to all products that previously used the word “Incredible” in Europe, including their faux meat patty, which becomes the “Sensational Burger.” The company uses the Awesome Burger brand in the United States.

The growing consumption of plant-based protein has led established food producers like Nestlé into the battle for market share, while allowing newcomers like Impossible Foods and Beyond meat (BYND) to expand rapidly Impossible Foods raised approximately $ 500 million in new financing in March, in a sign that investors are betting that the trend is here to stay. The meat shortage in the United States linked to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic has fueled consumption of meat substitutes even higher.

Nestlé approached Impossible Foods in the summer of 2018 to negotiate a possible licensing agreement regarding the Impossible Burger, according to the ruling, which cited legal submissions made by Impossible Foods.

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The world food giant announced the launch of the incredible burger while these negotiations were still ongoing, raising suspicions that it is trying to “thwart the successful launch” of the impossible burger in Europe, according to the court.

Nestlé, which had previously tried to declare the Impossible Burger trademark invalid, launched its Incredible Burger in Europe in April 2019. under its Garden Gourmet brand. This was followed by the September launch of the Awesome Burger in the United States. According to the ruling, Impossible Foods wrote to Nestlé USA in January 2019 warning that Incredible Burger infringes on the American Impossible Burger trademark.

Impossible Foods is waiting for European food safety regulators to approve the genetically modified ingredients contained in its burger, according to the ruling. Impossible Burger Contains soybean leghemoglobin (heme), a genetically modified yeast, which makes it taste like meat.

The American startup filed similar court orders against Nestlé in German regional courts last year, but withdrew them after courts told them they would not be granted.

Impossible Foods said in a statement that it applauds efforts to develop plant-based products, but does not want consumers to be confused. “We are grateful that the court recognizes the importance of our trademarks and supported our efforts to protect our brand against the incursion of a powerful multinational giant,” said legal director Dana Wagner.

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Cary Douglas

About the Author: Cary Douglas

Wayne Ma is a reporter who covers everything from oil trading to China's biggest conglomerates and technology companies. Originally from Chicago, he is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program.

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