Battle of biscuits: Maliban agrees to change packaging after Munchee sues
By S.S. Selvanayagam
The legal battle between Ceylon Biscuits Ltd, the manufacturer of the ‘Munchee’ brand of biscuits, and biscuit titan Maliban Biscuit Manufactories Ltd. has been amicably settled.
The settlement was arrived at as the Defendant Maliban Biscuit Manufactories agreed to change its trade dress, which the Plaintiff Ceylon Biscuits Ltd. alleged had been its trade dress for ‘Munchee Hawaian Cookies’ and ‘Munchee Lite Marie’ products.
The Plaintiff filed legal action under the Intellectual Property Act against the Defendant, alleging infringement of its trade dress. It claimed that consumers easily identify its original eye-catching packaging, good quality and product innovation developed over the years of business.
The Defendant Maliban biscuits, the oldest biscuit manufacturer, recently introduced its own coconut biscuit under the name ‘Maliban Hawaiian Cookies’ and ‘Maliban Light Marie’.
The Plaintiff claimed that the abovementioned both biscuits not only have similar names as its well-established Munchee counterpart, but also utilise confusingly similar colour schemes and packaging, thus making it very difficult to distinguish between the two brands.
Aggrieved with the alleged encroachment into its business interests, the Plaintiff Ceylon Biscuits Ltd. filed action against the Defendant for the alleged trademark infringement and unfair competition under the Intellectual Property Act.
While the order of the High Court Judge P.W.D.C. Jayathilake was due, the Defendant agreed to change its packaging designs and entered into an agreement settlement.
Under the settlement, the Defendant undertook not to manufacture, pack, advertise, distribute, sell and/or release into circulation its brand of ‘Hawaiian Cookies’ and ‘Light Marie’ biscuits in the alleged packaging.
Manoj Bandara instructed by Sudath Perera Associates appeared for the Plaintiff. Dr. Asanga Gunawansa with Dilshan Jayasuriya and Hiran Jayasuriya instructed by Dissanayake Amaratunga Associates appeared for the Defendant.