Oatsome - at the centre of the dispute

Oatsome - at the centre of the dispute

BetterBody Foods and Nutrition, a US-based natural ingredients food business, has filed a counter legal complaint against Sweden's Oatly over a trademark dispute.

In a statement yesterday (17 August), Utah-headquartered BetterBody Foods said it received the first of a series of "cease and desist" letters from Oatly in September via the Utah branch of the United States District Court over the use of the 'Oatsome' trademark.

Oatsome is the brand name of organic oat milk and oat drinks made by BetterBody Foods which are non-GMO, gluten-free and both vegan and kosher-certified. But as the company was about to launch the product in the US last year, it said the firm received a letter from Oatly's legal counsel "asserting" that that business owned the 'Totally Oatsome' trademark.

And Oatly has also "challenged" BetterBody Foods' rights to use the Oatsome wording on its products in the European Union and China.

However, BetterBody Foods said in the statement that its own pre-launch research had not thrown up any conflicts of interest over the use of Oatsome, which it then went on to successfully register with the US Patent and Trademark Office, and also registered the name's use in the UK, China, Australia and Singapore. 

BetterBody Foods said it then filed a complaint in July with the court in Utah against Oatly using the Totally Oatsome trademark.

"Given that no use of 'Oatsome' by Oatly had turned up during BetterBody Foods' search of the Oatsome mark prior to adopting it, BetterBody Foods was surprised at Oatly AB's claim to own the trademark Totally Oatsome," it said.

BetterBody Foods "is seeking damages and a judgement that the alleged trademark infringement is wilful and constitutes unfair competition", the company said.

The business was founded in 2007 by Stephen Richards. It also owns the PBfit peanut butter brand and the Plant Junkie range of spreads sold into major retailers.

Oatly, which has a range of products including Oatgurt and Oatmilk, said it would not comment on the matter when contacted by just-food. In July, Oatly sold a minority stake for US$200m in a funding round led by US private-equity firm Blackstone Group. It entered the North American market in 2016.