DinnerMates, a small maker of products including processed meat, must be allowed to register a trademark for its PeppaMates line of products, the Supreme Court of Appeal says – because nobody gets to own the word "pepper".
DinnerMates has been trying to register the trademark since 2010, but was fiercely opposed by the makers of Peppadew, a specific preparation of sweet piquanté peppers. Peppadew won a high court case, and then a full-bench appeal in the high court, that effectively banned the PeppaMates name.
But doing so would be absurd, the Supreme Court of Appeal said in its finding on DinnerMates' final appeal.
"If a monopoly is granted in respect of 'Peppa' it is hard to see how it would not extend to the use of pepper as a prefix, as in pepperoni, pepperpot (a West Indian stew), pepperwort or pepper sauce, all of which are in common usage," said judge Rammaka Mathopo.
Because the Peppadew trademark also covers confectionary, "'peppermint' would also be affected."
Trademark law is concerned with marks similar enough to deceive, or cause confusion – but this would not be the case with PeppaMates and PeppaDew, Mathopo said. Much like Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola, the two can co-exist.
"It is unlikely that a significant section of the public would consider that PeppaMates is the same as Peppadew."