A prominent European Union court granted Impossible Foods a preliminary injunction this week, ordering the global food conglomerate Nestlé S.A. to stop using the product name “Incredible Burger.”
The District Court of The Hague ruled 27 May that the use of “Incredible Burger” in Europe infringed upon Impossible Foods’ ImpossibleTM trademarks, including Impossible BurgerTM, and was likely to confuse customers.
As a result, Nestlé subsidiaries in Europe are prohibited from branding products “Incredible Burger.” If they fail to remove the infringing branding within four weeks, each of 10 separate Nestlé subsidiaries involved in the case would be subject to a penalty of €25,000 per day — a companywide penalty of up to €250,000 per subsidiary during the duration of the injunction.
“People specifically seek out Impossible Burger because it’s a superior product unique in the world of plant-based food,” said Dana Wagner, Impossible Foods’ Chief Legal Officer. “While we applaud other companies’ efforts to develop plant-based products, we don’t want consumers confused by simulacra. We’re grateful that the court recognized the importance of our trademarks and supported our efforts to protect our brand against incursion from a powerful multinational giant.”
Innovation — not imitation
Impossible Foods makes meat from plants — with a much smaller environmental footprint than meat from animals. The U.S.-based company uses modern science and technology to create wholesome and nutritious food and feed a growing population sustainably.
The plant-based Impossible Burger is sought out by consumers globally because of its unique taste, texture, mouthfeel and cooking characteristics that rival ground beef from cows. Impossible Burger is the result of nearly a decade of basic science and hard-core research and development in the company’s headquarters in California’s Silicon Valley.
Named Inc. Magazine’s company of the year and one of Time Magazine’s 50 Genius companies, Impossible Foods has an unrivaled intellectual property portfolio with hundreds of patents and patents pending. Its intellectual property includes methods to decode and reverse-engineer the molecular foundations and entire sensory experience of animal-derived meat, including how it tastes, cooks, sizzles and smells — and how to recreate the experience without animals.
In its ruling, the European court endorsed the validity of the Impossible BurgerTM trademark and noted the visual, phonetic and conceptual similarities between that trademark and Nestlé’s “Incredible Burger” branding and it cited considerable evidence that consumers and commentators were actually confused by the similarity in names. The court also stated that Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, appeared to have deliberately tried to impede Impossible Foods’ entry into the European market hoping to capitalize on the strength of Impossible Foods’ brand by promoting its own plant-based foods under a similar name.
For the full news release with more details on Impossible Foods’ intellectual property and the case against Nestlé, click here.