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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.