Typhoo claims malicious falsehood and says its trademark has been infringed

Typhoo is suing Keith Spicer, claiming the rival tea company made false accusations about the quality of its tea to retailers.

In court documents filed last week, Typhoo outlined a claim for infringement of trademark and malicious falsehood against Spicers - which makes Dorset Tea and own-label tea for retailers including Sainsbury’s and Lidl.

The claim centres on a report compiled by the independent tea broker Thompson Lloyd & Ewart for Spicers, which assessed the quality of various branded and own-label teas and estimated their likely value in pence per kilo.

Typhoo claimed information from this report was presented to Morrisons as TLE’s independent conclusions, when, in fact, it was Keith Spicer’s “edited, incomplete and inaccurate version of events.”

It also said it understood its rival had presented similar information to other retailers and wholesalers.

Typhoo outlined a number of points to support what it claimed was “the obvious inference that the presentation was deliberately prepared to give a false and misleading impression, at the expense of Typhoo”.

These included allegations that Spicers ranked one of Typhoo’s own-label teas lower than TLE had and falsely claimed that TLE’s independent assessment was that Typhoo branded tea had dramatically dropped in value.

Typhoo said Spicers must have known from its experience in the industry that Typhoo tea could not be produced at the price indicated.

Typhoo also said two of its own-label teas were omitted from the Morrisons presentation, one of which it claimed was ranked higher than an equivalent Spicers product in the TLE report.

Typhoo also alleged Spicers had falsely presented several of its own teas as being of higher quality or value than TLE had reported. It noted the original TLE report was compiled from samples provided by Spicers and the accuracy of the report was therefore reliant on the quality and accuracy of the samples it provided.

In support of its claim, Typhoo said it would rely on TLE’s own concerns about the “misleading and damaging nature of the Morrisons presentation” and the broker’s insistence that Spicers does not use its name in the future.

It also said it would rely on a letter from Spicers to Morrisons acknowledging errors in its presentation.

Typhoo said it was seeking damages as well as an injunction to prevent a repeat of the issues complained about, return or destruction of infringing materials and details of who they were sent to.

Spicers was approached for comment but declined to respond before publication. Typhoo also declined to comment on the dispute.