Nestlé loses ‘Incredible’ battle with Impossible Foods over burger name

The District Court in The Hague ruled that Nestlé had infringed on Impossible Foods’ trademarks and could confuse consumers and so must change the name of its Garden Gourmet Incredible Burger across the European Union.

The Dutch court gave Nestlé four weeks to withdraw the old product name from retail shelves or face a daily fine of €25,000.

“We are disappointed by this provisional ruling as it is our belief that anyone should be able to use descriptive terms such as ‘incredible’ that explain the qualities of a product. We will of course abide by this decision, but in parallel, we will file an appeal,” a Nestlé spokesperson said in an emailed statement to MarketWatch.

Nestlé’s NSRGY, +0.57% Incredible Burger, made from soy and wheat protein, launched in April 2019 and is sold in 15 countries across Europe. In the U.S., Nestlé sells a meatless patty called “Awesome Burger,” which is largely made of yellow pea protein.

Plant-based meat alternatives have soared in popularity during the coronavirus lockdown as the pandemic has disrupted the $213 billion U.S. meat industry, forcing industry giants including Tyson Foods TSN, +1.90%, Smithfield Foods and Cargill to temporarily shutter plants.

Read:Impossible Foods cuts prices as competition rises

Grocery-store sales of fresh alternative-meat products such as Beyond Meat and Tofurky rose by 264% in the nine weeks ending May 2, a $25.7 million increase and faster than they were growing in February before the crisis hit the U.S., according to data from Nielsen cited in a report by The Wall Street Journal. Fresh meat sales rose 45%, or by $3.8 billion, over that period, the Nielsen data showed.

“As consumers around the world seek healthier, more sustainable diets, we have created some of the tastiest plant-based foods available,” the Nestlé spokesperson said.

He added: “In Europe we offer plant-based burgers, grounds and a new sausage line under our Garden Gourmet brand. As we prepare to unveil a new burger recipe across the continent, we’re excited to announce a new name befitting this innovation: the Garden Gourmet SENSATIONAL Burger.”

Impossible Foods filed for an injunction in The Hague after similar requests lodged in Germany’s regional courts in Frankfurt and Hamburg are understood to have failed.

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