Nestlé has dropped its pursuit to trademark the term “Vegan Butcher” after a legal opposition was filed by The Herbivorous Butcher, the first U.S. vegan butcher shop opened and run by Guam-born siblings. It’s a win for the Minneapolis-based grassroots store, who launched their vegan butcher concept back in 2016 to offer customers their small-batch 100% plant-based, cruelty-free meat and cheese alternatives.
The lawsuit to block the attempt by food giant Nestlé to trademark the terms “The Original Vegan Butcher”, “Vegan Butcher” and “The Vegan Butchers” was filed by The Herbivorous Butcher in September 2019. Minneapolis-based shop had previously sought to register the trademark “Vegan Butcher” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in August 2017 without success, but the pursuit by the food giant appeared to be nearing approval, prompting brother-and-sister duo Kale and Aubry Walch to oppose the trademark.
The Herbivorous Butcher argued that these terms have been crucial to independent operations and marketing of their products, which to this date remains small-batch, house-crafted and serves residents nearby who are looking for delicious plant-based alternatives to charcuterie favourites. Among some of the products that customers can expect to find in their deli counter include meats, ribs, sausages, cheeses, meatloaf, brats, chorizo, turkey and more – all of which are 100% vegan and made from ingredients like vital wheat gluten, soy and natural flavourings.
I hope they realised, as did we, that the term ‘vegan butcher’ belongs to all the plant-based meat mongers that are working towards better food and a better tomorrow for animals and humans alike.Aubry Walch, Co-Founder, The Herbivorous Butcher
Nestlé has since decided to abandon its pursuit of the trademark, marking a win for The Herbivorous Butcher, who say that they do not plan to pursue a trademark in order to support the entire vegan ecosystem to continue innovating ethical and sustainable products.
Speaking to VegNews, who first reported the story, co-founder Aubry Walch said: “I hope they realised, as did we, that the term ‘vegan butcher’ belongs to all the plant-based meat mongers that are working towards better food and a better tomorrow for animals and humans alike.”
“It’s a movement and shouldn’t belong to a corporation or any one business,” she added.
This is not the first time that the Swiss food giant has run into legal challenges with plant-based firms, especially since it has made its intentions clear to pursue the alternative protein industry in response to mass demand.
It’s a movement and shouldn’t belong to a corporation or any one business.Aubry Walch, Co-Founder, The Herbivorous Butcher
In January 2020, the multinational said that it wants to launch vegan items across all its established brands, lines and categories, and that it believes plant-based is the key to “reviving” some of its older stagnant products, followed by its more recent announcement in December that it plans to invest US$3.5 billion into its climate plan, a large portion of which will go towards plant-based innovation.
It previously lost a legal battle with Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods, the makers of the famous “bleeding” heme-filled plant-based burger patties, a ruling that ordered Nestlé to rename its existing plant-based “Incredible Burger” sold across the European Union under its brand Garden Gourmet. The case was submitted by the food tech, who argued that Nestlé had infringed on Impossible Foods’ trademarks, which could confuse consumers.
All images courtesy of The Herbivorous Butcher.