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Baker 'passing off' bread as rival's, court told

WELL-known bakers Brennans are trying to confuse consumers by deliberately mimicking the packaging of a rival's successful product, it was claimed in the Commercial Court yesterday.

McCambridge Ltd, which claims to be the leader in the Irish market for traditional bread, has brought proceedings against Joseph Brennan Bakeries, trading as Brennans, over the "lookalike" brown bread product.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday agreed to fast-track the proceedings to the Commercial Court for hearing on July 21.

McCambridge, with registered offices at Rathcoole, Co Dublin, claims Brennans has infringed its copyright and is "passing off" its bread as that produced by McCambridge.

Brennans, of Harold's Cross Road, Dublin, denies the claims.

In an affidavit, company chairman Michael McCambridge said Brennans was marketing and selling bread in packaging "confusingly similar to and clearly derived from McCambridge packaging".

This had given rise to confusion within the market and was of "grave concern" to McCambridge, he said.

McCambridge was "widely known for its highly popular Irish Stone-Ground Wholewheat Bread sold as a rectangular 500g ready-sliced loaf in plastic resealable packaging," Mr McCambridge said.

Mr McCambridge said that, according to market research, his firm was the leader in the market for traditional bread here with a 30pc market share.

McCambridge bread had been sold in distinctive packaging throughout its history and the packaging in which it was now sold had been in use for the past three years, he said. It was plastic resealable packaging with a green rectangle as background, the John McCambridge signature and a photograph focusing on ingredients, including heads of wheat.

About 25 million loaves were sold between 2008 and 2010 in the new packaging and sales revenue over those years was in excess of €22m. Mr McCambridge believed his company had a strong and "highly valuable" goodwill in relation to the packaging.

Mr McCambridge said Brennans had also sold a sliced wholewheat brown loaf for the past 12-14 years. In 2008, Brennans changed its packaging to incorporate the colour green in what he, with hindsight, believed was the start of a process of "deliberate mimicking" the McCambridge product.

This process had "escalated dramatically" to the point where Brennans had produced a "lookalike" product copied from the McCambridge packaging and specifically intended to confuse consumers and people in the grocery trade, Mr McCambridge said.

Irish Independent