Cereal Company Owned by the Adventist Denomination Loses Trademark Lawsuit
by AT News Team
Sunday papers across Australia reported that Sanitarium Foods, the giant cereal manufacturer owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in that country lost a lawsuit enforcing its claimed trademark on the word “granola.” The large company owned by the denomination had threatened to sue many small, mom-and-pop businesses; restaurants, independent bakeries and health food stores that make their own mixtures of toasted nuts, grains and seeds.
John and Bronwynne Calvert, the proprietors of Irrewarra Sourdough in Victoria, took on Sanitarium Foods. They were both lawyers before they started their small business. They won a two-year legal battle when the Federal Court ruled in their favor.
The Adventist Church registered the name “granola” as a trademark in 1921 based on the idea that it was an invented word. The denomination has benefitted from significant profits over the decades as well as made an immeasurable impact on the diet and health habits of Australians. “Justice Jayne Jagot dismissed the claim, noting the word was easily found in dictionaries,” reported The Sunday Telegraph.
“Chefs, bakeries and café owners are celebrating [victory in] a David-and-Goliath battle,” said the Sunday Herald Sun. “It’s a fantastic result and we are very, very happy,” Mrs. Calvert told The Sunday Telegraph. “We were worried we would lose the house and the business if we lost the case.”
The denominationally-owned corporation has told the news media that it will take further legal action. It is unclear what that means, but a spokesperson stated that the company would “proactively protect its … intellectual property.”
“This is a classic example of an institution that has been enormously successful and does not seem to know how to come to terms with the culture it has impacted,” observed an American sociologist. “There appears to be little chance of actual economic loss to the company if it were to simply ignore the small providers. The management seems to have forgotten that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.’ Large institutions often lose any sense of humor.”