Oatly Defeats Absurd Trademark Opposition In UK Over Using The Word ‘Milk’


from the mammary-secretions dept

We’ve posted about Swedish oat milk maker Oatly several times here at Techdirt and never for good reasons. The company has a reputation as a trademark bully and abuser, starting with its failed attempt to lock out rival companies from using the word “oat”, even though that is a product descriptor, as well as its attempt to lock up the generic word “barista” in Australia.

But the fact that Oatly has been on our naughty list in the past doesn’t change the simple fact that its recent victory over dairy trade group Dairy UK is the good and proper outcome. At issue was a trademark application Oatly put in for its slogan, “Post Milk Generation.”

Oat milk brand Oatly is known for its extravagant messaging and eye-catching packages. The Swedish company registered the slogan “Post Milk Generation” in 2019.

However, Dairy UK, the trade association of the British dairy industry, soon challenged the trademark. It argued that the term could not be used “in relation to products that are not mammary secretions.”

That argument came from a UK regulation from 2013 restricting companies from describing products as “milk” if the product was not literal milk, hence the amazing “mammary secretions” requirement. The opposition failed, though it took four years to reach that conclusion. Oatly correctly and successfully argued that its slogan wasn’t describing its product at all, but instead referred to the type of folks that would buy oat milk, the post-milk generation.

However, lawyers for Oatly successfully argued that “Post Milk Generation” does not breach the regulation because it describes the likely consumer rather than the product.

Justice Richard Smith rejected Dairy UK’s claims that Oatly’s use of the term could cause confusion. Instead, he ruled that Oatly’s slogan makes it clear that the products are “for consumers who no longer consume dairy milk.”

And it’s a good slogan, as more and more people turn away from traditional dairy sources for milk and instead embrace plant-based “milks.” There are all kinds of health and environmental reasons for doing this, with the growth of the movement creating, you know, a post-milk generation of customers.

Honestly, the only surprising part of this ruling is that it took four years to get here.

Filed Under: dairy uk, milk, oat milk, post milk generation, trademark, uk

Companies: oatly

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