By Carla Lombardo
MADISON, Wisc. — There’s a new Irish butter battle in Wisconsin.
Residents who want access to Kerrygold Irish butter sued the state last month over a law that prohibits the sale of ungraded butter. Now the company that markets Kerrygold is suing a Wisconsin creamery over its proposed solution.
Sheboygan’s Old World Creamery announced last week it began importing Irish butter, giving it a quality grade and selling it as Irishgold butter.
Ornua, the owner of Kerrygold’s U.S. trademarks, alleged trademark infringement and false advertising in a federal lawsuit filed Monday in Milwaukee. The lawsuit asks a judge to block Old World from using the name “Irishgold.”
The complaints states that the name and similar packaging show “a deliberate effort to trade off the enormous goodwill and strong reputation that Ornua has built up in the Kerrygold brand for many years” and is “highly likely to cause confusion in the market.”
According to the complaint, Old World settled on the name “Irishgold” after ending discussions with Ornua about the possibility of grading and packaging Kerrygold butter in its facility and selecting a different company instead.
Old World Managing Partner Steve Knaus and his attorney, Sherry Coley, didn’t immediately return a message. Knaus said last week his company had been planning to import Irish butter into the state well before a group of residents represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty challenged the state’s grading law last month, but didn’t mention having had discussions about Kerrygold.
Tuesday is the first day Irishgold is on sale. Ornua wanted Old World temporarily barred from using the Irishgold name while the case was ongoing, but a judge didn’t make a decision at a Monday hearing.