Pass the salt, please!


Nombulelo Kambule

Most South Africans know better than to get in between a fellow South African and his beloved braai (Afrikaans for grill).

Our courts seem to concur as noted in a recent judgment handed down by the full bench of the Eastern Cape High Court of South Africa. The court decided on a dispute spanning more than two years between the salt giants, Cerebos Limited and Swartkops Sea Salt (Pty) Limited.

In the judgment, Cerebos was interdicted and restrained from passing off its braai salt product as Swartkops’s. The interdict prevents Cerebos from using the get-up of its current Buffalo braai salt or any appearance confusingly or deceptively similar to the trade dress of Swartkops’s well-known orange bottle braai salt. The order handed down by the court also made provision for an inquiry into the damages suffered by Swartkops as a result of the unlawful conduct of Cerebos.

The battle of the salts began at the end of 2010 when Cerebos launched its Buffalo braai salt product with a noticeably similar get-up to that of the Swartkops orange bottle braai salt. Swartkops’s large orange bottle of braai salt was unique to the salt market, particularly in the braai salt arena. Following Swartkops’s failed communications with Cerebos, Swartkops instituted passing off proceedings against Cerebos in 2011.

South Africa, Trademark, Grill, Supreme Court of Appeal, Swartkops,