Irish court judges in Glanbia's favour in probiotic case

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Glanbia Judge

The Irish Commercial Court has judged that the Yoplait Essence
brand does not infringe on Danone's Essensis trademark, and that
the French dairy giant's trademark should be revoked, as it is not
a genuine market brand.

The judgement, announced today after revocation proceedings were heard in the Commercial Division of the High Court in January 2007, was welcomed by Glanbia, with the Yoplait Essence range seen by as a way to increase its position in the value chain.

The company has set a target of doubling its share of the Irish functional food segment to 12 per cent.

The dispute centres around Glanbia's use of the name Yoplait Essence, which, say Danone, is too close to Bifidus Essensis, the pseudo-scientific name invented by Danone's marketing department for a strain of bacteria used in its Activia range of probiotic yoghurt.

Glanbia launched a counter claim to the French dairy giant's action against the Ireland-based company in the Dublin High Court.

Danone alleged that Glanbia infringed on trademark after the launch of its Yoplait Essence range of probiotics.

Glanbia hit back with a counter claim, stating that the Essensis trade mark should be revoked for lack of genuine use.

Indeed, a spokesperson for Glanbia confirmed to that Danone no longer use the Bifidus Essensis name in Ireland, and that the Glanbia product range is Yoplait Essence, and not Essensis.

The Irish High Court has backed Glanbia's statement by judging that the "Essensis" trademark is not a genuine market brand and has never been used as such.

No one from Danone was available for comment prior to publication.

The probiotic market is one of the fastest growing sectors in fresh dairy markets with a retail growth of about 12 per cent, according to Euromonitor.

The fresh dairy market in Ireland is valued at €230m annually, while the functional foods segment of that market is estimated to be worth €85m. The segment is reported to have experienced significant growth in recent years, with household penetration estimated to be 66 per cent.

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