Chobani has scored a small victory in its legal fight against Fage by convincing the court to allow it to use a consumer survey as evidence in the case.
Fage – the owner of the Total Greek Yoghurt brand – is suing Chobani for describing its US-made yoghurts as “Greek yoghurt” in the UK. Fage argues only yoghurt made in Greece should be described as ‘Greek’, while Chobani insists ‘Greek yoghurt’ refers to a style of yoghurt, not a country of origin.
Consumer attitudes to the term ‘Greek yoghurt’ could be key to the case, and in a decision earlier this week, Mr Justice Hildyard granted Chobani the right to use survey evidence on UK consumer perceptions as part of its defence case.
Kate Széll, a lawyer at intellectual property law firm Venner Shipley, said the decision in favour of Chobani was noteworthy as the courts had recently been trying to cut back on the use of surveys because of their cost and “dubious reliability”.
“It’s difficult to say what the significance is until there is a decision, but the fact that Chobani has been allowed to proceed with one is interesting from that point of view,” she added.
At the end of October, Fage was close to getting an interim injunction granted against Chobani. Subsequently, Chobani agreed to temporarily change its packaging – removing all references to the word ‘Greek’ – as of 1 December and until a final decision in the case has been made.
The case is scheduled to go to trial in February 2013.
Chobani and Fage did not comment.