The battle over Irish butter in Wisconsin entered a new chapter this week as the makers of Kerrygold filed a federal lawsuit attempting to pull a rival brand off the market.
Old World Creamery of Sheboygan unveiled Irishgold butter this week. The butter is made by Waterford Dairy of Ireland but repackaged and inspected to state standards in the Sheboygan facility, according to court documents and a news release from the company.
But the company that makes Kerrygold alleges Old World Creamery was in discussions to repackage their butter for the Wisconsin market until they suddenly reneged.
Court documents claim those discussions began last fall and ended suddenly in mid-February.
"Old World started to become less responsive in late February and early March, 2017," the complaint says.
"Unbeknownst to Ornua," the company that owns the Kerrygold brand, "Old World was causing a new business entity to be formed."
Wisconsin law requires all butter sold in the state to be tasted and graded by state licensed experts.
As a butter made and packaged in Ireland, Kerrygold is not in compliance with that law.
Ornua Foods North America filed suit in federal court Monday, accusing Old World Creamery of trademark infringement and false advertising.
The name Irishgold is so similar to Kerrygold, consumers will be confused, the suit alleges.
Exhibits attached to the court filing show multiple instances of news reports that confuse the two names.
A public relations firm handling the roll-out of Irishgold sent an urgent email to reporters over the weekend clarifying the difference between the brands.
Kerrygold is seeking a temporary restraining order that would pull Irishgold from the market while the case proceeds. A judge has not yet ruled on that order.
A spokesperson for Old World Creamery says the decision to abandon a partnership with Kerrygold was partially about money.
"It was a business decision based on financial and other considerations," she said in an email late Wednesday.
TODAY'S TMJ4's I-Team first broke the story of the illegal butter back in February.
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