Celiac.com 06/08/2018 - A spat over gluten-free symbols turned legal recently, when Bob’s Red Mill filed a lawsuit against the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America in U.S. district court in Portland. Bob’s Red Mill is looking to continue using their current gluten-free logo without seeking permission from, or paying money to, the Gluten Intolerance Group (G.I.G.), which verifies and certifies gluten-free products through its Gluten-Free Certification Organization program. To date, the program has certified more than 30,000 products in 29 different countries.
For its gluten-free labeling, Bob’s Red Mill currently uses a gluten-free circle symbol with “gluten-free” in larger letters in the middle. Above and below the gluten-free, in smaller font are the words “GLUTEN” and “FREE,” respectively. For their certification label, The Gluten Intolerance Group uses a similar “gluten-free” in a circle, with the words “Certified” and “Gluten-Free” in smaller letters above and below the circle, respectively.
In court document, Bob’s said that “complying with G.I.G.’s demand would require a significant redesign and marketing process,” and that the “potential damages exceed $75,000.” The suit by Bob’s Red Mill claims that G.I.G. abandoned its application to register its gluten-free mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Feb. 13 of this year, and asks the court to declare that G.I.G.s gluten-free mark is unenforceable and merely descriptive.
Basically, Bob’s seems to be launching a preemptive lawsuit to put G.I.G. on its heels before G.I.G has the chance to sue Bob’s. Stay tuned to see if this suit actually makes it to a trial, or if cooler heads prevail and the two sides work something out.
The Gluten Intolerance Group was founded in 1974, and offers consumer support, advocacy and education to the gluten-free community. Bob’s Red Mill was founded in 1978, is a global provider of gluten-free milled grain products, and certified-organic milled grain products.
Disclosure: Bob's Red Mill and G.I.G. have been sponsors of Celiac.com.