Was Tesco planning to follow the launch of its successful Yoo yoghurts with a new tertiary Cheddar brand called MU?
That is the question being asked after cheesemaker Adams Foods applied to register a trademark for MU Cheddar "exclusive to Tesco" on 13 May and then withdrew the application earlier this week after The Grocer had made enquiries about it.
The full trademark filed by Adams Foods with the Intellectual Property Office was 'MU the tasty one. Mature Cheddar. Exclusive to Tesco. Reclosable pack helps keep your MU perfect.' The application also included a detailed pack design featuring a hand-drawn black and white cow pattern, an udder-shaped U in the word MU, and the Tesco logo.
Asked about the trademark application, Tesco insisted there were "currently no plans to launch any" cheese brands with Adams Foods.
Adams Foods refused to shed any further light on the situtation. "All dealings with our customers are confidential, and so we can't comment at this time," it said, declining to reveal why it had withdrawn its application, or whether it had done so at Tesco's request.
It is not unusual for companies to file trademarks without firm launch plans, but the detailed pack design supplied with Adams Foods' application suggested a reasonable amount of time and effort had gone into the brand.
One dairy industry executive, who looked at the MU application, said the pack design had all the hallmarks of a design agency having worked on it. "Some serious thought has gone into this, particularly as it carries the Tesco logo," he said. "This doesn't look like a generic mock-up to me."
Another industry source said regardless of whether Tesco and Adams had ever planned for MU to come to market, the mark and design provided some "interesting" insight. "Tesco has made clear recently it wants own label to behave more like proper brands, and this would fit in with that strategy," he said.
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