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Kraft Foods' suit: Britannia to take 'appropriate action'

BS Reporter  |  Bangalore 

Britannia Industries, the maker of Tiger biscuits, today said it will take “right and appropriate action as it always has” against the lawsuit filed by US-based Kraft Foods for alleged trademark and copyright violation of its Oreo cookie brand.

In a suit filed on Tuesday in the Delhi High Court, Kraft said the Bangalore-headquartered biscuit maker’s newly-launched Treat-O snack copied its iconic chocolate and cream-filled sandwich cookie. It alleged Treat-O, with an emphasis on O, was inspired by Oreo and Britannia also copied the specific design like florets and etchings.

Kraft has sought an injunction to prevent Britannia from manufacturing, selling, marketing or advertising any product similar to Oreo cookies. The US-based confectionery maker has also sought damages for such violations and unfair competition to its Oreo brand of cookies.

Harish Bijoor, a brand consultant, said Kraft had indeed spent a good amount of time and dollars to build a fabulous brand, Oreo, and they will not let go of Britannia’s Treat-O lightly. “Oreo is an Oreo and in India, it costs a lot but people do buy it. Treat-O is too close for comfort. I think Britannia may have to relook at this,” he said.

This is the second time that Britannia has entered into a legal tussle with a global food company over patent issue. Britannia had taken French food company Danone to a Singapore court, alleging trademark infringement of its Tiger biscuit. It settled the case with Kraft after Danone sold its biscuits business to the latter.

Industry experts said the timing of the dispute was important, as Kraft after taking over Cadbury was planning to manufacture and sell biscuits in India.

It is also crucial for Britannia, as the company is looking to sell more premium products, which will fetch better margins. Britannia is consciously looking at deriving more value for its products, as it battles with Parle at the other end of the spectrum in the glucose segment. Britannia has been maintaining that the segment is growing slowly and people are exploring options.

Britannia reported a 39 per cent drop in its bottom line at Rs 64.7 crore in July-September. Revenue grew by 27.5 per cent to Rs 1,094 crore.

Britannia shares today closed 0.10 per cent higher at Rs 410 on the National Stock Exchange.

First Published: Thu, January 06 2011. 01:27 IST
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