Plant milk makers Oatly - a huge multinational company worth more than $15bn - are suing a family run oat milk company right here in Cambridgeshire. While Oatly maintain an HQ in Sweden, they are now just another multinational corp, with investment from Howard Shultz, Oprah Winfrey, and even the Chinese State-owned conglomerate China Resources.
They are now rather aggressively, and wholly unnecessarily, attempting to stop a much smaller family owned oat milk company from selling, and sowing its own oats, as it were.
“Oatly, the plant milk maker backed by Oprah Winfrey, and American owned Blackstone Group, is in a court battle with a Cambridgeshire farm over alleged trademark infringement.” - from the BBC article “Oatly sues UK oat milk maker over trademark” 10 June 2021.
Trumpeting themselves as “the world’s original and largest oatmilk company”, with $447 Million LTM Q1 revenue, 32,200+ coffee shops, 60,000 retail doors, 9 planned production facilities by 2023, and having recently opened up smaller shares to the public in May, lawyers for Oatly sought a High Court injunction on Thursday to stop Glebe Farm Foods selling its PureOaty brand.
How can a little family owned farm in the Cambridgeshire countryside be a threat to this growing behemoth you may ask? The simple answer is, they are not, and they certainly do NOT have the resources to defend themselves in court when they should and could be putting all their money, resources and energy in to growing their own brand and business, so that one day they too can have a “spokesperson” answering media questions.
Oatly said it contacted the PureOaty makers at the start of the pandemic in early 2020, saying "their branding infringed our trademark".
“Farmer Phillip Rayner, who owns Glebe Farm, said the PureOaty name was "a nod to the purity of the product".
Mr Rayner said that his company began producing the beverage using British-farmed oats about 18 months ago, but Oatly now wants Glebe Farm to stop using the PureOaty brand and change its packaging.”
As a small company, it costs money to redesign and change packaging, and what would Oatly like Glebe to do with the packaging it already has lined up ready to be filled with its own oatmilk? A landfill perhaps?
“A spokesperson for Oatly said, "we unfortunately received no constructive response from them. We are therefore now involved in an ongoing court case and we have no further comment as we await the results."
The Cambridgeshire farmer said: "Oatly says the name and packaging is too similar to theirs, but when we compare the two products side by side, we are surprised by this." - excerpts from the BBC article “Oatly sues UK oat milk maker over trademark” 10 June 2021
To be very clear, both brands are differing shades of blue, look absolutely nothing alike, and have completely different names. Or perhaps Oatly will be attempting to copyright and trademark the word “Oat” next?
We would like to meet this aggression by asking Oatly to kindly cease and desist this behaviour, withdraw your injunction and truly “upgrade others lives” like you say you strive to do on your own website. Healthy competition CAN be healthy. Monopolies are not. Do better! #FreePureOaty