Danone has been handed an interim injunction by the UK High Court preventing its use of the term ‘Greek yogurt’ to market its recently-launched brand, Danio.
In a statement sent to DairyReporter.com, Danone revealed that the injunction was issued on 30 January 2013 to prevent it naming its new Danio high-protein, low-fat strained yogurt ‘Greek yogurt’ in the UK – just days after its 26 January 2013 launch.
In order to comply with the interim ruling, Danone is removing any reference to Greek yogurt from Danio packaging.
According to Danone, the ruling relates to a separate on-going legal battle between Greek yogurt manufacturers Fage and Chobani. DairyReporter.com understands that the injunction was issued against Danone following a High Court request by Fage.
The case centres on Fage’s claims that yogurt made outside of Greece should not be allowed to be called ‘Greek yogurt’. Meanwhile, New York-based Chobani maintains that the term ‘Greek yogurt’ refers to a manufacturing process and the resulting type of thick strained yogurt.
Fage filed the lawsuit against Chobani in November 2012 after the yogurt manufacturer launched its products in the UK.
Terms refers to process, not origin
Danone has defended its use of the term ‘Greek yogurt’ following the issue of the injunction – claiming that the term refers to the manufacturing process, not the geographical origin of the product.
“Danio is out most recent yogurt innovation, and is characterised by the fact that it is made with a straining process which uses more milk than standard yogurts to make it thick and high in protein. We stand by our position that ‘Greek yogurt’ refers to the way in which the product is made and does not hold a protected designation of origin status, either in the UK or abroad,” said Danone in a statement.
The company added, however, that it will comply with the High Court Order.
“We have been explicit from the outset with all our stakeholders and on Danio packaging regarding the manufacturing process and the fact that the product is not manufactured in Greece. We will comply with the interim injunction and remove any reference to ‘Greek yogurt’ on our Danio packaging and are in close communication with our customers to make this transition as smooth as possible.”
In further correspondence with DairyReporter.com, Danone emphasised that is it not required to withdraw products from stores under the injunction. Danone confirmed that already-delivered Danio products are “OK to remain on shelves.”
Injunction in place until ‘Greek’ case settled
The injunction on Danone’s use of the term ‘Greek yogurt’ looks set to remain in place until the dispute between Fage and Chobani has been settled.
“This ruling is in place until the High Court has determined, as part of a separate case with another manufacturer, whether the use of ‘Greek yogurt’ is only possible for yogurt produced in Greece of if it refers to a particular type of yogurt made using a specific process. In the meantime we will continue to consider our legal position with regard to these proceedings,” said Danone.
DairyReporter.com also pressed on Danone how costly the injunction is likely to be. The company declined to go into specifics.
“This is commercially sensitive information that has been communicated to the Court,” said Danone.