By A Correspondent| Bread maker, Lobels has threatened to drag its local competitor, Natbake to court over seemingly identical branding of their white bread.
Lobels lawyers, Mawere Sibanda Commercial Lawyers, wrote to Natbake on July 4 demanding it stops using its colours or face legal action.
The lawsuit threat comes at a time the country’s second largest bakery in the country is facing viability issues and struggling to pay transporters.
Lobels’ lawyers claimed the ‘identical’ trade dress was causing confusion on the market.
It is also reportedly facing serious competition in terms of quality of the prime white loaf.
“The company has been feeling the heat from competitors who have introduced better quality bread on the market.
Apparently the colors which they allege to be identical have different shades which should not be an issue because customers can easily distinguish between the two brands,” a source said.
“Your aforesaid use of a trade dress identical to, or at least similar to our client’s trade mark in respect to identical services is calculated to induce the relevant either to mistake or confuse your services for our client’s services or to unfairly take advantage of the goodwill and reputation our client has established in the Lobels goods and services. Your imitation of Lobels’ red and blue trade dress is a fraudulent ploy to deceive an average consumer of Lobels products into mistaking your goods as our client’s, which consequently affects our client’s reputation and goodwill,” the lawyers wrote.
“We have therefore been instructed by our client to demand, as we hereby do, that you immediately cease all use of the Lobels mark, deliver up for destruction all infringing products including packaging and trade documentation bearing the offending mark and trade dress and furnish our client with a written undertaking that you will refrain, in future, from using a trade dress or mark similar to our client’s in Zimbabwe.”
“Should you fail to comply with the foregoing, our client reserves the right to institute appropriate proceedings at the High Court of Zimbabwe against you in respect of the use complained of and to institute a claim for damages,” the lawyers further wrote, indicating they were giving Natbake five days to respond.
Natbake, which is now Zimbabwe’s fourth largest bread maker after Bakers Inn, Lobels and Proton, is yet to respond to the correspondence.