British chef Jamie Oliver, known for 'The Naked Chef' TV series, is facing a lawsuit from a nonprofit group — the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) — for "federal certification mark infringement, counterfeiting, and unfair competition under federal statutes, with pendent claims for trademark infringement, and unfair competition." The nonprofit claims that Oliver's gluten-free symbol that is used on his website recipes is similar to the group's signature gluten-free certification label (the letters "GF" in a circle with the phrase "Certified Gluten Free").
Oliver's website features thousands of gluten-free recipes, which are marked with a "GF" in a circle to indicate they don't contain gluten ingredients. His recipes use a range of similar abbreviations, including a "V" in a small circle on vegetarian recipes and "DF" for dairy-free recipes. The GIG claims that Oliver's GF mark is "identical or substantially similar" to its own marks and his use of the mark "is intended to falsely certify that Oliver's recipes are gluten-free."
Check out the two symbols below — the GIG logo is on the left, while Oliver's is on the right:
Are you wondering whether Oliver's recipes really are gluten-free? Well, as Today notes, it's not really a question of whether Oliver's recipes are or aren't gluten-free, this lawsuit is all about the GIG protecting its trademark.
Products that are approved to use the GIG's certified gluten-free label must go through a process to prove they meet the group's standards, with activities like plant audits and quarterly testing. It turns out that recipes are not certified by the GIG, so Oliver doesn't have the option of using the group's mark.
Fast Casual points out that many restaurants currently use the letters "GF" to denote gluten-free items on menus, so the restaurant industry will be watching this lawsuit with great interest.