A tiny Australian company is taking on Nestlé in the High Court with a legal action claiming the world’s biggest food manufacturer copied its design for a flavoured drinking straw.
As reported in The Grocer (October 15, 2005, p76), Unistraw won an innovation award at the Anuga exhibition for its Sipahh product, a see-through straw containing beads that deliver flavour to the milk as it is sucked up through the tube.
The straw, which took seven years to develop, was launched in Australian supermarkets last year and the company is in
negotiations to appoint local licensees in a number of countries, including the UK.
In the claim issued on December 22, 2005, Unistraw alleged that Nestlé UK copied its design
after negotiations between the two sides, exploring the UK commercialisation of Sipahh by Nestlé, broke down.
The talks included the signing of confidentiality agreements, Unistraw claimed. The claim alleges Nestlé UK misused confidential information and breached Unistraw’s European Community design rights, giving the owner the right to prevent unauthorised copying of its design in the EU.
Unistraw is suing for damages, and also demanding an injunction to prevent Nestlé putting its straw on the market and requiring it to destroy all the products and packaging.
The claim alleges that Nestlé utilised information that had been imparted to it in the course of confidential commercial negotiations between the two parties.
Unistraw has also written to UK retailers informing them of the court action, after learning that Nestlé was planning the imminent launch of Nesquik Magic Straws.
Greta Thomas, Unistraw global brand director, said the Sipahh concept, which can also deliver vitamins and drugs, had the potential to become a massive worldwide product. “We will not be backing down in our claim against Nestlé,” she said.
Nestlé UK said it intended to strongly defend the claim, which was connected with the £3m launch of Nesquik Magic Straws.
“Nestlé takes such an
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