Dick Smith’s OzEmite stays on shelves, but fight might not be over

A long running battle between Dick Smith and AussieMite’s Roger Ramsey may not be over despite the Federal Court ruling the entreprenuer’s OzEmite spread can remain on the shelves.

ozemiteSmith has been battling Ramsey since he launched OzeMite, which was the flagship brand of his Dick Smith Foods range which aimed to use profits to help charities.




Smith challenged an earlier ruling last year by Intellectual Property Australia that said his ownership of the trademark had lapsed because he had waited too long between registering it and putting the product on the market.

Smith had registered OzEmite in October 1999 while AussieMite was registered in May 2001.

AussieMite hit the store shelves shortly after being registered, but Smith’s version did not arrive in stores until 2012 as he worked to get the taste right. Smith also re-registered the brand as Dick Smith’s OzEmite.

Smith told Mumbrella the court ruling had validated his decision to challenge the IPA decision and said that the way in which trademarks in Australia was administered needed to be changed.

“I was always genuinely concerned but I never thought he could possibly win,” Smith said.

“We have spent $550,000 defending this and the court has ordered he pay costs. I am going to say something to the minister about how the Intellectual Property office works. The people I’m concerned about is IP Australia. This should never have happened.”

At the time of the IPA ruling Ramsey highlighted his disappointment with Smith’s decision not to accept “the umpire’s decision”.

However, the company has signalled it may appeal the Federal Court ruling which was handed down on Friday.

Smith had said previously that he would simply change the name of the product to Dickymite if he lost but was also warned ahead of the judgement on Friday that he could simply shut the operation down.

The court found that even though there was not product on shelves, Smith had used the brand name within the time frame as required.

Smith had previously accused Ramsey of launching the trademark fight simply as a way to generate publicity for his own brand, a charge that Ramsey rejected.

“All the publicity Dick Smith’s ever created for our product has been negative,” he told Mumbrella in 2014.

“He’s made some wild allegations about us stealing his name when in actual fact the trademark Aussie Mite was first registered in 1982 and the OzMite, where he’s just added an E, was assigned to him in September 1999. Before he made the application to register it it hadn’t been on the register since 1993.”

Smith said he had decided to challenge the IPA ruling because he had been urged on by supporters.

During the case he made an open offer to Ramsey for both products to remain on the shelves and let the public decide, even saying he would pay $60,000 to help Ramsey promote AussieMite.

He said he did not beleieve a further appeal would succeed.

“The judge’s decision was a discretionary decision and you can’t challnge that,” he said.


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