Date set for Ma'amite court battle

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 14:08 19/12/2012
Rob Savage
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ
COURT BATTLE: Customs seized a container of 'Ma'amite', imported by Rob Savage in August.

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The date has been set for the battle between Sanitarium and a Canterbury importer over a container of Ma'amite.

Customs seized Rob Savage's container of Ma'amite in August, after Sanitarium claimed that selling the spread here would be a trademark infringement.

The 1908 jars are worth about $15,000.

The High Court in Christchurch has now set a date for the case, in which Sanitarium seeks to have Savage's goods destroyed.

The imported spread, normally called Marmite, was labelled ''Ma'amite'' as the jar was a limited edition in honour of the Queen's diamond jubilee.

The company claims the British Marmite infringes on their trademark. Under the Trade Marks Act 2002, imported products found to have infringed a trademark can be destroyed, as a last resort, to prevent them from being sold.

The application will be heard in the High Court on February 26.

In an online statement, Sanitarium said the matter could be ''quickly and easily'' settled out of court without the product going to waste.

''Following earlier offers by Sanitarium which failed to result in a final agreement, Sanitarium made an open offer to Mr Savage with two options: one that would allow him to relabel the products or, as a one-off, to sell the 1908 jars of UK Marmite, labelled for the Queen's diamond jubilee as 'Ma'amite', with the profits donated to a Christchurch charity,'' the statement said.

Savage did not accept the offer.

He has previously told The Press he would keep fighting the company.

''I'll fight them in the High Court, I'll fight them anywhere. It may sound silly arguing about breakfast spread, but this is about personal freedom and choice.''

Savage said he had imported the spread in the past without any issues and felt it did not breach the trademark as the two products were "clearly different".

To prevent trademark infringements in the future, Sanitarium said, it was happy for Savage to continue importing British products and selling them here under a different name.

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