By Ian Neubauer

The local arm of Swiss giant Nestle is taking legal action against Woolworths over its cut-price promotion of Sanpellegrino mineral water.

The fight broke out after Woolworths sourced an overseas shipment of the premium Italian water from a third party at a discount rate and launched a sale offering four bottles of Sanpellegrino at 50 per cent off the recommended retail price of $12. The promotion included an advertisement that showed a Sanpellegrino bottle with the label turned away.

Nestle, which owns the local distribution rights for Sanpellegrino, hit back by claiming Woolworths had breached its design copyright by broadcasting images of the distinctive green bottle.

Nestle has also launched legal against Cantarella Bros, a local outfit that was once the sole importer of Sanpellegrino in Australia and now manufactures the Santa Vittoria brand.

The bottles of both brands are similarly shaped and feature similar labels, with the only distinguishable difference lying in the logos. Sanpellegrino sports a trademark red star, while Santa Vittoria shows a scene from the famous Italian painting, The Birth of Venus.

Nestle is demanding Cantarella Bros recall all stock of Santa Vittoria and pay compensation for loss of trade — a claim Cantarella Bros CEO Les Schirato called ridiculous.

“I don’t think Australians aren’t able to distinguish between a naked lady and a red star,” Schirato told The Australian Financial Review. “We’re an Australian company and we’ve built up this brand of mineral water and now export it all over the world. This is something we’ll certainly be defending.”

Nestle and Cantarella Bros are also involved in an older trademark battle regarding the ownership rights of an image of a cup of coffee viewed from above, and a plain red mug. The case continues.   

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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