A European court ruled that Néstle must change the name of its Incredible burger because it infringes on Impossible’s trademarks, according to the Wall Street Journal.
For now, the ruling only applies to European countries. Swiss CPG giant Néstle will change the name of its patty to Sensational Burger, which unfortunately doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easily but also won’t potentially confuse customers — something the court cited in its ruling.
According to the WSJ, Impossible claimed Nestlé was “trying to impede” its entry into the European market by using a similar name for its product.
A spokesperson for Néstle said that they believe “anyone should be able to use descriptive terms such as ‘incredible’ to explain the qualities of a product.” The company is planning to appeal the decision.
Néstle launched its Incredible meatless patty last year under its Garden Gourmet brand. The burger is made of soy and wheat protein and meat to compete with the new wave of plant-based meat companies, namely Beyond and Impossible. As of right now, Nestlé’s patty sells in 15 European countries as well as Australia, and in 2019 also landed in McDonald’s stores in Israel.
Impossible doesn’t actually sell its products in Europe yet. It filed with the EU in 2019 for regulatory approval. A spokesperson for the company last year told The Spoon that Impossible plans to “sell plant-based meat in every single region of the world.” That said, one of the hangups with Impossible getting its products in Europe is the company’s use of soy hemoglobin in its products, which is the molecule that gives the patties their “bleeding” flavor and appearance. As Catherine Lamb noted last year:
While technically heme isn’t genetically modified — it’s the output of genetically modified yeast — it could still throw up some red flags for the European Food Safety Authority.
Plant-based meat’s other major player, Beyond Meat, announced a new manufacturing facility in The Netherlands last year, and more recently said it would increase availability and speed for getting its products around Europe and the Middle East.
All of which is to say, the fight over Nestlés naming underscores how competitive the plant-based meat market has gotten recently. Even if Nestlé successfully appeals the court’s decision, the company has its work cut out in terms of carving out a dominant spot in the European alt-protein market.