US – World’s largest food company Nestlé has taken Danone to court alleging that the French dairy maker’s Silk brand coffee creamers copies the unique branding and packaging designs from its Coffee-mate Natural Bliss line
Danone is accused of copying parts of the Natural Bliss line package, including the color and cap of the bottle and the light purple color band around the bottle’s neck listing the flavor.
In a federal court filing in Virginia, Nestlé said its French competitor is modifying its product to “gain an instant marketplace boost” and “freeride on the goodwill” it has built in the category.
The Natural Bliss line is an important brand to Nestlé going by the millions of dollars spent each year to promote and market it.
Additionally, the Liquid coffee creamer sales have also risen 18.2% in the last year toUS$3.6 billion, up from about US$2.45 billion in sales only four years ago, according to data provided by Nielsen.
Along with what’s inside, packaging can be a big factor in deciding whether a shopper will decide to buy a product.
A study by Shorr Packaging last year found packaging is important for seven out of 10 individuals while a 2018 Ipsos study revealed 72% of consumers said the design of a product’s packaging often influenced their purchase decisions.
Similar packaging designs are also a problem as they could shift sales over to one brand if a hurried consumer in the store can’t immediately tell the difference.
This makes the decision by Nestlé to move in earnest to protect its turf in the creamer space all expected, especially when more consumers are using the additive in their morning coffees while they work from home during the coronavirus outbreak.
Nestle’s Coffee-mate and Danone’s International Delight are the undispited category leaders, according to FoodDive.
Danone acquired Silk as part of its US$12.5 billion purchase of WhiteWave in 2017, effectively bolstering its position in the creamer space.
Nestle said in the filing that Danone easily could have used different design elements for its packaging, as it has done in the past, but it chose to copy the market leader.
“Danone’s intent is obvious and inescapable: to gain an instant marketplace boost and acceptance by mimicking Nestlé’s packaging design and elements,” Nestle added.
Nestlé is seeking to enjoin Danone’s use of its copycat packaging designs and to recover actual damages, Danone’s profits, and other relief, including attorneys’ fees and cost, the company said.
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