The Gluten Intolerance Group (‘GIG’) of North America has knifed back at Jamie Oliver and Jamie Oliver Enterprises (‘Jamie Oliver’) for trade mark infringement, counterfeiting and unfair competition.
The complaint filed on 7th July at the US District Court for the Western District of Washington (the US state where GIG is based and where one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants operate in) details that Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited (a private limited company in the UK undertaking business in the United States) ‘operates a web site <www.jamieoliver.com> [which]… provides comprehensive information about food, healthy eating and significantly, gluten-free recipes.’
The GIG claim that Jamie Oliver is using a logo mark (a ‘GF’ in a circle) that ‘is identical or substantially similar to [its] marks and upon information and belief is intended to falsely certify that Oliver’s recipes are gluten-free.’
Trade marks are territorial rights offering protection in the regions in which they are registered. The trade marks owned by GIG are registered in both the EU and the US. Although substantially a complaint filed in the United States, it will be interesting to see how this develops and if this has any impact to websites (that are essentially global in nature) using internationally recognised trade marks.
The free-from food industry has become a spicy trend of late with Mintel predicting the market set to surpass £0.5 billion by 2020. The rise of food blogging has also billowed out this trend with authoritarians such as Deliciously Ella, Madeleine Shaw and Clean Eating Alice championing a clean eating regime and advocating the use of naturally-derived, free-from ingredients in their culinary creations.
GIG in its complaint have asked the US District Court for injunctive relief and an award of damages including costs for corrective advertising from Jamie Oliver. Considering that Jamie Oliver failed to provide evidence of its rights to use of the stated ‘GF’ mark at pre-litigation stage, we will be keeping our eyes peeled open on how this one pans out.