Chobani's long-running legal battle with rival Fage over its use of the term 'Greek yogurt' in the UK is seemingly at an end, after it was refused permission to launch a second appeal against a 2013 High Court injunction.
New York-based Chobani was slapped with a permanent injunction by the UK High Court in March 2013 that prohibits its use of the term ‘Greek yogurt’ to market its US-made, high-protein yogurt range in England and Wales.
Fage, which markets Athens-made Total Greek Yogurt in the UK, argued that only yogurt made in Greece should be labelled ‘Greek’. After the seven-day hearing last year, the High Court accepted Fage's argument.
Chobani’s first appeal of this decision was rejected by the UK Court of Appeals on January 14 2014.
Yesterday, the UK Supreme Court announced it had refused Chobani's request for permission to appeal the January Court of Appeals decision "because the application does not raise an arguable point of law."
It was also ordered to pay Fage’s "costs incurred in resisting the application for permission of the appeal," said Fage in a statement sent to DairyReporter.com.
The 2013 High Court case centred on Fage's claims that only yogurt made in Greece should be labelled as 'Greek yogurt'. Defendant Chobani argued, meanwhile, that the term 'Greek yogurt' refers to a specific manufacturing process.
Siding with Fage, the High Court concluded that a substantial proportion of British consumers that buy Greek yogurt believe it is made in Greece.
More than a year on, Fage is confident its legal wranglings with Chobani in the UK are over.
“The permanent injunction remains in place, preventing Chobani from selling in the UK as Greek yogurt, a strained yogurt made in the US," said Fage.
“Needless to say perhaps, there is no appeal from this final order.”
With the permanent injunction handed down by the High Court last year still in place, yogurt sold as Greek yogurt in the UK must continue to satisfy certain criteria.
It must be made is Greece using a straining process and cannot contain additives and preservatives.
As a result of the decision, Chobani and other yogurt manufacturers were forced to relabel their products, with Chobani initially opting for the more generic term 'strained yogurt'.
Chobani later announced plans to withdraw from the UK market until it had a domestic production case up and running.
It said then that British consumers can expect to see Chobani back on shelves in 2015.
In a statement, Chobani said that while "the UK is not currently a market of strategic focus" for it, it is "disappointed that the UK Supreme Court refused to prevent the monopoly on the use of the term Greek yogurt."
"We will continue to advocate our view that the population of the UK knows and understands Greek yogurt to be a product description in terms of how it's made not where it is made, similar to things like French fries and English muffins in the US."
Chobani had no update for DairyReporter.com when pressed on its announced UK market re-entry.