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The Herbivorous Butcher takes on food giant Nestle in trademark battle

The Minneapolis vegan food shop is fighting the global conglomerate in the courts.
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One is an upstart vegan food shop in Northeast Minneapolis, the other a Swiss-based global food conglomerate responsible for products including KitKat, Hot Pockets, and Häagen-Dazs.

But The Herbivorous Butcher and Nestle are now going head-to-head in a legal battle over the term "The Vegan Butcher."

Aubry and Kale Walch, the siblings behind The Herbivorous Butcher, say they applied with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to trademark the term "Vegan Butcher," a phrase they had been using on products since at least 2014, and continued to use after opening their first bricks-and-mortar store at 507 1st Ave. NE. 

Their 2017 trademark application was denied, however, with the USTPO saying the phrase was "merely descriptive" and too vague to be granted its own trademark.

Shortly after, the USTPO gave their approval to Nestle USA for the trademarking of the nearly identical term, "The Vegan Butcher," which it wants to use for its Sweet Earth Foods brand.

The Herbivorous Butcher has filed a motion opposing USPTO's approval of the trademark, setting up a legal battle with Nestle.

"We may be small but we are going to fight big to protect what we create, be it a recipe or a slogan,” said Aubry Walch in a press release.

"We won’t stand by and let a powerful corporation attempt to take our intellectual property. We won’t be intimidated by the imitators, no matter their size."

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The trademark dispute will now be examined by USPTO, with the legal battle expected to drag on until at least 2021.

The Walchs announced themselves as having the first meat-free butcher shop in the U.S. when they opened their store three years ago. 

Nestle, meanwhile, intends to launch a line of "Vegan Butcher" deli meats through its Sweet Earth Foods line, according to the Star Tribune.

Bring Me The News has reached out to Nestle for comment, though it has not commented publicly on the issue to other media outlets thus far.

Nestle made $91 billion in sales in 2018, while the Herbivorous Butcher told the Star Tribune it hit $3 million in sales last year.

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