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The Victorian Supreme Court has ruled Bega Cheese is permitted to use the Bega trademark on products outside the scope of the licence Fonterra has for Bega branded cheese and butter products.

In 2017, Fonterra Brands Australia commenced proceedings in the Victorian Supreme Court challenging Bega Cheese’s right to use Bega trademarks.

Bega Cheese said it’s pleased its rights to use its brand on products has been confirmed by the court.

Fonterra has an ongoing licence to use the trademark on licensed cheese and butter products.

Fonterra Australia managing director René Dedoncker said the company was pleased it retained the exclusive license for the Bega Cheese brand for cheese and butter.

Dedoncker said: “Although we’re disappointed with the decision on the trademark claim, we are confident that we can work together with Bega Cheese to continue to grow the value of the brand.”

The ruling means Bega Cheese is entitled to use the Bega trademark on products outside the scope of those licensed products, including peanut butter.

This is the second court proceeding regarding Bega’s peanut butter products.

In November 2020, Bega won a case against Kraft Heinz Australia, which had argued Bega rebranding Kraft Peanut Butter with its moniker was a violation of its intellectual property rights. In 2017, Bega had purchased the Kraft factory – where the category-leading product was made – from Mondēlez International as part of its $460 million acquisition of most of Mondēlez’ ANZ grocery business, including Vegemite, cheese, and mayonnaise. .

The High Court of Australia ruled Bega had the right to use the current packaging of its smooth and crunchy peanut butter products. It dismissed Kraft Heinz’s Application for Special Leave to appeal to the High Court, which meant the decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia handed down in April 2020, would stand.  

Bega’s peanut butter products are the star performer in its portfolio. In its 1H21 results, Bega’s Simply Nuts brand grew to a 21.2 per cent share of the natural peanut butter segment, growing 104 per cent on the prior comparative period (pcp). Core Bega peanut butter continued its strong growth, now holding 82 per cent share of total core peanut butter and growing 15.8 per cent pcp.

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