The BBC has reported today that leading global brand owner Unilever is threatening legal action against the British National Party in order to prevent it from using a jar of the popular Marmite spread in a party political broadcast. According to the BBC article,
"Unilever said it had not given the BNP permission to use its product and was looking into taking out an injunction. The BNP's online broadcast was removed from its website, but it can still be seen on video hosting website YouTube. The party initially said the clip was a spoof, but then claimed it had not been responsible for adding the Marmite jar.
In the broadcast, a jar of Marmite appears in the top left hand corner of the screen as BNP leader Nick Griffin addresses the camera. In a statement, BNP leader Nick Griffin said the jar had "apparently" been inserted by "one of the people to whom we had given the broadcast to review". He added that it was not included in the official version of the broadcast.
Neither Marmite nor any other Unilever brand are aligned to any political party.
However, Mr Griffin went on to say that the Marmite jar had been added in reaction to a recent advertising campaign for Marmite which he said mocked the BNP. In the Marmite campaign two spoof political parties, the Love Party and the Hate Party, compete in a mock election. The BNP claims the Hate Party was "clearly based" on itself. "Quite simply, if you start a spoof, you should expect to get spoofed," added Mr Griffin. "Although we are not responsible for whoever it was who inserted the Marmite jars into the internet version of the broadcast, we do see the amusing side."
Unilever said in a statement: "Neither Marmite nor any other Unilever brand are aligned to any political party. We are currently initiating injunction proceedings against the BNP to remove the Marmite jar from the online broadcast and prevent them from using it in future."The IPKat speculates that Unilever's claim will be based on trade mark infringement though either deriving an unfair advantage or damaging the reputation of the brand without due cause, as well as for passing off on the basis that the positioning of the Marmite jar constitutes a false representation that Marmite or its brand owner has endorsed or sponsored the BNP.