Oct 21

What else are Sanitarium trying to Stop British Ex-pats from buying?

The greed and overweening arrogance of Sanitarium seems to know no bounds, and they seem to be completely abusing their Tax-Free status by heading for the Lawyers instead of spending energy on the Advancement of their religion.

Story 1: Sanitarium Don’t own the rights to the word Granola.

Sanitarium took a small family bakery (Irrewarra Sourdough Bakery) to court in Australia because they produced a product called Irrewarra Sourdough Bakery All Natural Handmade Granola.


Sanitarium Lost. Even though they actually do own the Trademark for  Granola in Australia and have owned it since 1921.

In a David v Golliath style case, the bakery has won in their defence against Sanitarium’s action. This case may set a precedent for other traders within the ‘cereals’ manufacture, sale and promotion businesses who may wish to use the term ‘granola’ in a descriptive sense – to describe a type of cereal product.

Now – this is not the issue we face with Marmite obviously, although in the next case, which has not gone to court, you can see that perhaps Sanitarium really do need to take some warnings from this. The interesting thing here is that just because you own a Trademark, it does not mean you will win a court case about that Trademark. You do not automatically get the legal right to stop anyone else using the word, and sometimes a bit of common sense, and a little less willingness to head to court, can save a lot of face.

Note that the court’s decision in this case doesn’t guarantee safety to others wishing to use the term granola to simply describe a breakfast/cereal product they offer – but, it does set a precedent in the event Sanitarium takes action against further traders for their descriptive uses of the word. Whilst it is possible for a trademark registration to be revoked on the basis it consists of a ‘sign’ that becomes accepted as a descriptive term after filing the application initially, no-one has sought to remove or revoke the Granola trademark on this basis.

And here’s the kicker – going to court could potentially harm Sanitarium even more if the courts decide that – there being no intention to actually infringe the Trademark – then the supermarkets could start selling UK Branded Marmite and Weetabix. Now I’m not a lawyer, so I have no idea how big the risk is – but I think its a dangerous move to go to court for something that was never actually causing any harm to Sanitarium in the first place.

Story 2: Who is banning the import of all Weetabix Company Products?

Rob Savage of Piccadilly Circus, and English Bob’s are not the only people getting their stocks of UK goodies impounded by New Zealand Customs. Taste of the UK in Palmerston North have similarly had shipments seized and opened. However this story comes with some really concerning points which we hope to look into more deeply.

But a recent shipment was seized by Customs, with every piece of stock opened.

Co-owner June Belchambers said she was told it was a “thorough search for drugs”, but after an initial look it was obvious stock had been confiscated.

“I bet they have gone through and taken the Weetabix stuff,” she said.

Why on earth are New Zealand Customs using the excuse they they are looking for Drugs? Do they have any reason to suspect that British Food Importers are shipping illegal drugs in amongst the Cadbury’s Cream Eggs and Birds Custard Powder?

But to then find that all products made by the Weetabix Company, even it isn’t Weetabix was withheld, is just out of order. Why do New Zealand customs feel it is appropriate to lie about why they are stopping and opening shipments? They have the power to do so, so why come up with a bogus excuse?

And remember. Sanitarium do not own the Trademark for Weetabix, and have no legal right – in my entirely non-lawyerish mind to have customs seize products which in no way can be said to be  infringing their Trademarks.

As much as people will not be confused between Marmite and NZ marmite, less do they have a leg to stand on between Ready-Brek (made by Weetabix) and Weet-Bix.

Ill show you:

I think it’s fair to say that anyone who believes that Ready Brek infringes Sanitarium’s Weet-Bix trademark is a trying to stretch the truth beyond all recognition. Not that this is a new concept in this fight to be honest.

Now -I just want to be clear here – I am not sure if Sanitarium asked customs to block the Ready Brek, or someone at Customs took that decision themselves. We should be able to find that out – but it will take some time.

But I have to say I think its clear that Sanitarium have lost the plot – the question is Why? What started all this high-handed legal threats against small importers? Why risk the inevitable PR backlash?

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