Battle of the brown breads
McCambridge takes rival to court over alleged 'passing off' of product
BREAD wars broke out in the courts yesterday with claims that bakers Brennans set out to intentionally confuse customers of rival McCambridge with a brown bread loaf.
They did so by deliberately copying the packaging of a well- established McCambridge brown bread product, the Commercial Court was told.
Michael McCambridge, chairman of McCambridge Ltd, made the claim at the opening of proceedings by his company alleging "passing off" by Brennans in the packaging of a stone-ground wholewheat bread product.
Mr Justice Michael Peart was shown an array of brown bread products made by McCambridge, Brennans and other companies, most in resealable, clear packaging.
Mr McCambridge said his concern was that people who normally bought McCambridge would be confused by the Brennans packaging and buy the rival product by mistake.
He was also concerned that new customers would choose the Brennans product thinking it was McCambridge.
McCambridge Ltd claims Brennans has infringed its copyright in its packaging and is "passing off" its bread as that manufactured by McCambridge.
Brennans denies the claims.
McCambridge claims it is "widely known" for its "highly popular, Irish, stone-ground, wholewheat bread, sold as a rectangular, 500g ready-sliced loaf in plastic resealable packaging".
Anthony Aston, for McCambridge, argued there was "a confusing similarity" between the packaging introduced by Brennans in January last for its wholewheat sliced bread and that of McCambridge.
The similarity was particularly evident when the two products were viewed side by side with the front facing out on supermarket shelves, he said.
Counsel said Brennans accepted McCambridge had a good reputation but contended its packaging was sufficiently distinctive from the McCambridge product. His client disputed that and had witness statements from consumers who reported confusion.
Mr McCambridge told Mr Aston while Brennans claimed it had set out to distinguish its product from the McCambridge one, it had "spectacularly failed" to do so.
Given the fact Brennans leads the overall bread market, it was surprising it had not used its yellow and red livery more in the packaging, he said.
Cross-examined by John Gordon, for Brennans, Mr McCambridge disagreed there was "a noticeable difference" between the packaging used by Brennans and that of his company.
The case continues.