Dairy giant Valio to sue brewers Olvi and meat producers Pouttu
Unhappy food companies feel little love for one another when wrangling over the use of trademarks Olo and Onni – Feeling and Happiness
Finland’s largest dairy Valio has taken steps to acquire the rights to certain trademarks through legal action.
Consequently Valio has hauled two firms, the brewery and beverage company Olvi and the meat processors Pouttu, to the Helsinki District Court.
Valio sued Olvi and Pouttu when they refused to grant it rights to the use of the product brand names Olo (“Feeling”, "Condition") and Onni (“Happiness”, "Joy") that the companies had registered under their names.
In the case of Olvi, Valio is quarrelling over the brand name Raikas Kevyt Olo (“Fresh Light Feeling”), which in Valio’s view should be removed from the trademark register. Valio argues that the trademark has not been used in the past five years.
Olvi has registered the trademark in a category in which it can be used to market, for example, mineral waters, fruit juices, and fruit drinks.
When Valio tried to register its own Olo brand in the same class, the National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland turned them down, based on Olvi’s older registration.
According to the clarification that Olvi has supplied to the Helsinki District Court, the company has manufactured and marketed Kevyt Olo mineral drinks for more than ten years.
In Olvi’s view Kevyt Olo is therefore one of its most important product families and the company does not want to surrender the use of the trademark to Valio.
Valio has applied for registration for its Olo and Valio Olo trademarks also in the dairy products category.
The company manufacturers, for instance, Olo digestive yogurts.
The company has even set up the Valio Olo wellbeing service around its dairy products.
Apparently Valio now wants to broaden its Olo brand to include the manufacturing and marketing of fruit juices and fruit drinks, which would bring it well within range of the Olvi usage.
The handling of the case is likely to begin sometime next year.
When it comes to Pouttu, Valio is arguing over the use of the Onni trademark.
The small meat processor has registered the Onni trademark to protect its meat products in a trademark class that also includes milk and other dairy products.
According to Valio, Pouttu has not used the trademark in the past five years.
Pouttu is yet to provide the District Court with a clarification regarding its use of the brand title.
With respect to Pouttu, Valio emphasises that it “continues its efforts to resolve the matter amicably without having to resort to legal action”.
Valio Vice President, Legal Affairs Kyösti Parttimaa says that the company only wants to register new products in categories where no other manufacturer is using the same words.
Parttimaa refrains from revealing into which product groups Valio wants to broaden its operations.
“In other words, we are not looking to prevent Olvi from using the Kevyt Olo title in the brewery products category or Pouttu from using the word Onni to market its meat products”, Parttimaa says.
Pouttu (website in Finnish)