Sanitarium's battle to stop a small retailer importing a breakfast cereal similar in name to Weet-Bix has been defended by the NZ Food and Grocery Council.
The Kiwi and Aussie health food company is preparing to take small business A Little Bit of Britain to the High Court to stop it importing British-made breakfast cereal Weetabix.
It comes after A Little Bit of Britain, which sells British groceries online and from two South Island outlets, had a shipment of Weetabix stopped at the border.
Sanitarium has said it has a border notice in place that alerts it to breaches of its trademark.
NZ Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich says it's a shame Sanitarium has had to go to court, but "it was left with no option".
"If they allow any other company to use their trademark or something like it then they could lose their rights to the Weet-Bix brand. It's that simple," she said.
She said the one letter difference between Weet-Bix and Weetabix was too similar and after building its brand up over 90 years, Sanitarium had to protect it or risk losing its integrity.
"A public scrap sure creates a lot of free publicity for A Little Bit of Britain, and on the surface looks like a David vs Goliath battle," Ms Rich said.
"But there's more to it than that. According to reports, fair and reasonable options have already been presented."
This included Sanitarium paying to place stickers over the Weetabix boxes so that while their names would be covered, they would still be available for A Little Bit of Britain customers to sell, she said.
A Little Bit of Britain's Lisa Wilson told Fairfax she was confident she was not infringing on the Weet-Bix trademark and was only trying to service her customers.