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30 July 2014Trademarks

UK Supreme Court ends Greek yoghurt row

A long running UK case surrounding use of the term ‘Greek yoghurt’ has come to an end after a US company accused of passing off was refused permission to appeal to the UK’s highest court.

FAGE, a producer of Greek yoghurt, said it has conclusively won a legal battle in which it accused US rival Chobani of marketing its yoghurt as ‘Greek’ despite it being imported from the US.

FAGE said in a statement that Chobani, which it first took action against in 2012, was refused permission to take the case to the Supreme Court after two failed court cases.

“The court has ended the ‘Greek yoghurt’ case; its decision is final,” FAGE said.

“Chobani is forbidden from selling US-made strained yoghurt as Greek in the UK.”

FAGE, which makes ‘Total Greek Yoghurt’, began its battle against Chobani in 2012 to protect its UK sales. It insisted that only yoghurt made in Greece should be sold and marketed as such.

Earlier this year, The Court of Appeal found in favour of FAGE, upholding a High Court decision from March 2013 by Justice Michael Briggs.

At the time, a Chobani spokesman told WIPR it would be appealing to the Supreme Court because it took the view that people “know and understand” Greek yoghurt to be a product description regardless of where it is made.

Its appeal was rejected this week as the Supreme Court said the case did not raise an arguable point of law.

FAGE, originally established in Greece, has been importing yoghurt from Greece to the UK since 1983.

Chobani must also pay FAGE’s legal fees, the company said.

A spokesman for Chobani said that although the UK was not currently a market of strategic focus it was disappointed that the Supreme Court refused to “prevent the monopoly” on use of the term Greek yoghurt.

“We will continue to advocate our view that the population of the UK knows and understands Greek yoghurt to be a product description in terms of how it is made not where it is made,” the spokesman added.

FAGE did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

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