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McCain International v Country Fair Foods

[1981] RPC 69

Case summary last updated at 02/02/2020 20:04 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case McCain International v Country Fair Foods

C introduced new product into UK: chips that could be cooked in oven. Sold product under name ‘McCain Oven Chips’. Year later D introduced their own version of product which they sold as ‘Birds Eye Oven Chips’. C alleged passing off. D alleged “Oven Chips” was descriptive and therefore C could not have monopoly over it. Held:
 
·        See notes.
·        Name has no secondary meaning where it simply informs customers what the nature of the product is.
·        Thus:
i)         “McCain” indicated the source of the product
ii)       “Oven Chips” merely indicated the nature of the product
·        I.e. important factor in case seemed to be that McCain had put their own brand name in front of phrase “oven chips”
Ø  Thus was inferred that they knew term “oven chips” was descriptive, and that they felt the need to distinguish themselves
·        Case might have been decided differently if McCain had simply sold product as “Oven Chips”

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