Politics & Law

“NotCo is Officially NotGuilty” – Chilean Unicorn Defeats Dairy Union as Court Allows ‘Milk’ on NotMilk Labels

After filing an appeal against a court ruling prohibiting using the NotMilk trademark in Chile, NotCo has received positive news.

As reported by local media, the Court of Appeals of Valdivia revoked the first instance’s sentence and rejected the lawsuit filed by the Association of Milk Producers of the Los Ríos Region, which accused NotCo of unfair competition for using the name milk on its plant-based beverages. 

“We’re officially NotGuilty,” Matias Muchnick, founder and CEO, shared on social media. 

The legal action against NotCo started in 2020, and last May, the court ruled in favor of the dairy union, mandating the cessation of any branding or imagery related to the dairy industry. 

However, NotCo fought back and, during the appeal, presented a study by Cadem, the country’s leading market research and public opinion company, showing that 99% of consumers understand that NotMilk is not milk despite its branding and packaging displaying the word “milk.”

In its ruling in favor of the food tech, the court of appeals said that, according to the information provided by the parties, NotCo’s advertising campaign clearly states that the product is not milk, even if it shares some similarities. In its legal brief, the court added that consumers of cow’s milk, presumably, prefer natural products and might not choose a beverage made from vegetables and AI, such as Not Milk.

notmilk sugar free
© NotCo

Changing the food system

Recently, significant developments have emerged in the ongoing dispute over labeling plant-based products using traditional animal product terms like ‘milk,’ ‘ham,’ and ‘tuna.’ 

First, it was Oatly, which recently won a four-year legal battle with Dairy UK Ltd for using the word “milk.” Then came the news of the Belgian government’s decision to allow plant-based products to display meaty names such as ‘vegan burger’ or ‘vegan steak, ending the “veggie war.” It is worth noting that ProVeg International says that rather than “allowing,” the government is not making any changes to the label guidelines and is leaving decisions for the next term. 

Lastly, just two days ago, after five years of legal battle, the French Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Nutrition & Santé Group (owner of Gerblé, Céréal, ValpiBio, Valpiform), which had been accused by the meat lobby Interbev (Association Nationale Interprofessionnelle du Bétail et des Viandes) of confusing consumers with “veggie steak” labels.

Muchnick shared on social media: “Today we celebrate a great little victory. An important milestone for NotCo and for many other entrepreneurs or startups that have or are about to face similar situations. Today I write prouder than ever to belong to this group of people who want to change the world by proposing a different perspective.” 

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