McCambridge sues rival firm over 'lookalike' bread


BREAD COMPANY McCambridge, which claims to be the leader in the market for traditional bread, has sued a rival company over alleged deliberate mimicking of its packaging to produce a “lookalike” brown bread product which its says has confused consumers.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday agreed to fast-track the proceedings by McCambridge against Joseph Brennan Bakeries, trading as Brennans, and fixed the case for hearing in the Commercial Court on July 21st.

McCambridge, with registered offices at Rathcoole, Co Dublin, claims Brennans has infringed its copyright in its bread packaging and is “passing off” its bread as that manufactured by McCambridge. Brennans denies the claims.

In an affidavit, Michael McCambridge, chairman of the McCambridge company, said Brennans is marketing and selling bread in packaging “confusingly similar to and clearly derived from McCambridge packaging”.

This had given rise to confusion within the market and was of “grave concern” to McCambridge. Brennans’ actions were “parasitic” and appeared to be based on the premise the rival bread products should be treated the same when they were not.

Outlining the background, Mr McCambridge said his company was incorporated in 1970 to take over the bread baking business carried on by the McCambridge family since 1945.

McCambridge was “widely known for its highly popular Irish Stone-Ground Wholewheat Bread sold as a rectangular 500g ready-sliced loaf in plastic resealable packaging”, he said. This product was made with a unique recipe in the McCambridge family for generations and sold for about 50 years.

According to research, McCambridge is the leader in the market for traditional bread here with a 30 per cent market share, Mr McCambridge said. It had sales of more than €7.6 million last year.

Mr McCambridge said Brennans has also sold a sliced wholewheat brown loaf for the last 12 to 14 years. In 2008, Brennans changed its packaging to incorporate the colour green in what he, with hindsight, believed was the start of a process of “deliberate mimicking” of the McCambridge product.

This process has “escalated dramatically” to the point where Brennans has produced a “lookalike” product copied from the McCambridge packaging and specifically intended to confuse consumers.