In a David and Goliath battle, Multinational coffee company Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE), is suing Australia’s Vittoria Coffee over the use of its glass jar packaging.
JDE, the owner of the Moccona brand, claims that the glass jar’s iconic shape is a trademarked design and a key brand asset.
Trademarked packaging is nothing new. Coca-Cola’s signature bottle shape is one of the most well-known examples. The glass bottle was trademarked in 1977 and this has been fiercely protected ever since.
As part of this lawsuit, JDE is claiming that consumers use the glass jar as a ‘shortcut’ visual cue to identify the premium product contained within it. They allege that Vittoria is misleading consumers as their packaging is very similar.
Vittoria vs Moccona’s glass packaging design
The case focuses on the 400g jars. Vittoria’s instant coffee also comes in 100g and 200g packages that are not the same shape and style.
Les Schirato, CEO of Vittoria has responded by claiming that Vittoria doesn’t want or need to trade off Moccona’s reputation. Schirato points out that the Vittoria brand is strong and is recognised for its premium product that is served in leading cafes, restaurants, and hotels.
Vittoria is perhaps right that they don’t need to trade off Moccona’s brand reputation. However, that might not be enough to win the battle.
Both packages are glass jars but they are certainly not identical. Surely Vittoria’s design team considered how to differentiate their jar from the trademarked design of the category leader?
But is the Vittoria packaging design different enough?
It will certainly be interesting to watch the outcome of this case as it will potentially have implications for brands and agencies when it comes to packaging design.