Startups, Accelerators & Incubators

Nestlé Concedes to Herbivorous Butcher in Battle Over “Vegan Butcher” as a Trademarked Phrase

In a case reminiscent of Nestlé’s court battle with Impossible Foods over the use of the name “Incredible Burger”, whereby The Hague ruled that Nestlé had infringed upon Impossible’s trademarks, allowing four weeks to withdraw the burger or pay €25,000 a day in fines; The Herbivorous Butcher states to vegconomist that it has won the rights to use the phrase “vegan butcher” which it originally coined back in 2015.

As we reported in 2019, siblings Aubry and Kale Walch applied to trademark several phrases including “vegan butcher”, “Meat-Free Meats,” “Sister Butcher” and “Brother Butcher,” and were granted all of their applications except for “The Vegan Butcher,” which was denied on the grounds that it is apparently “merely descriptive” – however, the same application was then granted to Nestlé’s Sweet Earth.

According to a representative, the phrase is essential to the brand’s identity, and they originally coined the phrase in 2015 ahead of opening their brick and mortar vegan butcher shop the following year. The startup produces a wide range of plant-based meats and cheeses and received worldwide attention for opening a vegan butcher shop, a highly novel concept at that time which is now becoming common around the world.

©Herbivorous Butcher

The siblings chose to oppose Nestlé’s application for the trademarks, unsure how they would fare in the battle against the large conglomerate. Much to their surprise, Nestlé submitted an abandonment claim to the USPTO for their application in January 2021. They have not disclosed the specific reason for their abandonment.

The Herbivorous Butcher does not plan to pursue the trademark again. Aubry Walch says, “I hope they realized, as did we, that the term ‘vegan butcher’ belongs to all the plant-based meat mongers that are working towards better food and a better tomorrow for animals and humans alike. It’s a movement and shouldn’t belong to a corporation or any single business.”

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