Leanne and Ian Neeland, from Yarra Glen in Victoria, received a letter from the confectionary giant in June last year demanding they “cease all use” of the term “freckle” in their Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery stores.
The couple sold more than 20 products using the freckle name in their three stores across the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Great Ocean Road, including the “giant freckle”, “mini freckles” and “freckled egg”.
But Nestle said the name was trademarked and could confuse its customers.
“How can you own freckles? We’ve got freckles on our faces and we’ve been eating freckles for many, many years,” Ms Neeland told A Current Affair.
“We felt really sad that a big multinational company like that could actually own something that we all love so much.”
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The company was given just three months to rebrand, putting them at risk of losing $50,000 worth of labelling. So the Neelands wrote to Nestle asking for a longer 12-month transition period, but never received a reply.
“It’s a blow. We’ve been dealing with the impact on tourism first from the bushfires and now the coronavirus, so it’s a constant battle for small business owners,” Ms Neeland told the Herald Sun.
She said even with the extra nine months, the company was expecting to have to dump about $5000 worth of labels.
FUN NEW NAME
The Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery stores will now sell their freckles as “polka dots”.
“Australia loves freckles. We’re hoping Australia will also love polka dots,” Mr Neeland told A Current Affair.
“It is just the packaging that has changed. It is still the most amazing Belgium covered chocolate covered in those beautiful freckles.”
A Nestle spokeswoman said in a statement that the company was willing to work with Yarra Valley Chocolaterie to help minimise their cost and inconvenience.
“It’s important for companies to protect their trademarks by preventing unauthorised use, as if they don’t, they can lose the right to their brand names forever,” the statement said.
“This is why when we became aware that Yarra Valley Chocolaterie was using our trademark, we asked them to stop using it.”