Muzz Buzz coffee franchise wins “landslide” court victory against competitor which ripped off its brand

The High Court of New Zealand has found in favour of Muzz Buzz Franchising in a legal stoush against Auckland drive-through coffee business Jitta Buzz.

Muzz Buzz has 53 stores across Australia and New Zealand. The court found Jitta Buzz deliberately copied elements of Muzz Buzz’s brand, kiosks and website and infringed Muzz Buzz’s copyright, intellectual property and trademarks.

Justice Toogood declared an award of injunctive relief in favour of Muzz Buzz against Scott and Chrissandra Christie and JB Holdings, who operate the Jitta Buzz business.

Jitta Buzz is required to make substantial changes to its trading name and the appearance of its drive through outlets and websites by Friday.

The court found Jitta Buzz attempted to capitalise on the success of the Muzz Buzz brand in Australia.

“I am satisfied that they decided to appropriate it to themselves for use in New Zealand by copying the essential elements of the brand, while stopping short of creating complete identicality, in the belief that being the first to brand drive-through coffee outlets in New Zealand in that manner entitled them to do so,” Justice Toogood found.

“Having regard to the similarity of the two names of the businesses and the striking similarity of the appearance of the kiosks there is, in my view, likely to be harm to the business of [Muzz Buzz] through the erroneous association with [Jitta Buzz’s] business in the diversion of custom, if not in damage to reputation.”

Warren Reynolds, the executive chairman of Muzz Buzz, told SmartCompany he “couldn’t be happier” with the judgment, which had taken two years to progress through the courts.

“We discovered somebody had started up stores in New Zealand that look like ours, smell like ours and feel like ours, so consumers thought they were ours,” Reynolds says.

“We had really no choice but to take legal action. We tried to get them to change and they refused.”

Reynolds describes the result as a “landslide victory” which shows courts will protect a business’ rights to its branding, imagery and concepts.

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