An epic legal pie-throwing competition set north against south and ended in victory for a Bolton-based baker which based its design for a ‘teardrop’ meat treat on Leeds United Football Club’s emblem. After Peter Hunt’s Bakery Limited registered its pie design, it faced bitter opposition from a London company which insisted that there was nothing novel about it.
Peter Hunt’s Managing Director insisted that his favourite football club had inspired him to come up with the teardrop idea and, after hearing expert evidence on pie-making and considering the ‘tolerances’ of shortcrust pastry, a hearing officer appointed to resolve the dispute by the Registrar of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks decided in the company’s favour.
Rival pie maker Volvere Central Services Limited had insisted that its design for a ‘substantially identical’ pie pre-dated Peter Hunt’s application and that the teardrop shape was in any event too commonplace to merit registration. However, the hearing officer ruled that ‘informed, knowledgeable and particularly observant’ pie-eaters would appreciate the ‘novelty’ of Peter Hunt’s design.
Noting the sharper edges and more obviously triangular shape of the Volvere pie, he observed that the products were ‘not, literally speaking, identical’. The teardrop design was more like ‘a guitar plectrum, or even a bicycle saddle’ than a triangular segment. Peter Hunt had pointed out that, if some of its pies were arranged to make a larger pie, they would form ‘something like a polygon’ rather than a near-perfect circle, like Volvere’s product.
Rejecting Volvere’s challenge to the validity of the registration, the hearing officer found that the ‘overall impressions’ that the rival pies would make on experienced pie eaters were different and concluded, “The name is, of course, not important; It is what the eye sees that matters.”