Rival household coffee brands Moccona and Vittoria go to war in bitter feud over use of ‘similar’ flat-top glass jar – so can you tell the difference?
- Claim that Vittoria’s 400g jar too similar to Moccona’s
- Moccona’s parent company took Vittoria to Federal Court
Two rival coffee brands familiar to Australian supermarket shoppers are at war over the shape of a glass jar.
The bitter fight between Moccona’s Dutch American owner, Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE), and Vittoria has gone to the Federal Court.
The multinational alleges the Australian company has engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by selling its instant coffee in a flat-top jar that customers could confuse with Moccona’s distinctively shaped container.
While Vittoria also sells instant coffee in 100 gram jars, it is their 400g jar which is at issue.
As a result JDE launched Federal Court proceedings against Vittoria, one of Australia’s oldest coffee makers, in February 2023.
A bitter fight between Moccona’s Dutch American owner, Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE), and Vittoria has gone to the Federal Court over the shape of the latter’s 400g jar
The shape of Moccona’s instant coffee jars is trademarked and according to its parent, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, it is also iconic
The shape of Moccona’s jars is trademarked and according to its parent, JDE, it is also iconic.
The Amsterdam-based company, which also makes Pickwicks tea, L’Or Espresso, Piazza D’Oro and Kenco coffees, says the shape of the Moccona jar is one of the company’s ‘crown jewels’.
JDE’s head of category development and shopper insights Ross Tillman claimed in documents tended to the court that the Moccona glass jar is a visual cue that customers use to select their product.
‘By advertising, promoting, offering for sale and selling infringing products in a shape resembling [Moccona’s glass jar], [Vittoria] is likely to mislead a number of ordinary and reasonable consumers of coffee in Australia into the erroneous belief that the infringing products emanate from [JDE] or are otherwise connected, associated or affiliated with [JDE] and their premium coffee products,’ read one court document.
It is understood that JDE has suffered commercial losses since Vittoria began putting more products on supermarket shelves.
But Vittoria, which was started by brothers Orazio and Carmelo in 1947 and began roasting coffee in Sydney 65 years ago, brutally shot back at JDE’s claims of a trademark infringement.
Brothers Orazio and Carmelo started Vittoria in Australia in 1947, initially selling mineral water, parmesan cheese and pasta
Vittoria chief executive Les Schirato said his company’s reputation is such that it doesn’t want or need to trade off Moccona’s, Nine newspapers reported.
‘You don’t get Moccona being served in cafes and restaurants and five-star hotels. So for me, the issue of passing off or trying to attempt to pass off on their reputation is not something we would ever want,’ Mr Schirato said.
But in supermarkets the respective coffee do appear to be pitched at similar buyers, at least based on price alone.
An online search on April 27 showed Vittoria’s 400g jars of freeze-dried latte instant coffee retail at $24 (discounted by $8) compared to several Moccona varieties for sale in 400g jars for $28.
Mr Schirato also pointed out that the respective labels make it clear which coffee is contained in the jars.
Vittoria has alleged in a counter claim that JDE’s trademark for the Moccona jar is invalid and should be cancelled.
The Australian company’s statement of claims also alleges that the Moccona jar is functional and ‘does not distinguish the designated goods or services’.