Irish manufacturer Jacob Fruitfield Foods, which ceased making biscuits in the Republic this year, claims it still retains the right to sell and distribute the brand in the Irish market and has issued solicitors' letters warning retailers it will take legal action to protect its trademark.
UB has the UK rights to the Jacob's brand and Irish retailers say they can source supplies from it much more cheaply than through the Irish supplier.
Independent grocers' lobby group RGDATA has called for intervention by trade minister Mary Coughlan to assert retailers' rights under EU law. In a letter to the minister, RGDATA director general Tara Buckley wrote: "When the production of well-known brands ceases in Ireland and moves overseas, and is significantly cheaper overseas, there is an obligation to source products at the cheapest possible price." By doing so, retailers could offer customers value, she said.
However, Jacob Fruitfield chairman Michael Carey claimed UK products were "being passed off" as his company's products on the Irish market. "We will defend our products against all retailers who infringe our intellectual property rights," he warned.
There was no immediate response from the trade minister.