Win for King Island’s reputation but a big warning on misleading company names

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 23rd August 2012

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has succeeded in a prosecution against a company and its director in relation to a company  whose name was found to have misleadingly referred to a geographic location from which its products did not originate.

The Federal Court of Australia has handed down its judgement against King Island Meatworks and Cellars Pty Ltd, a meat retailing business in Brighton, Victoria and its manager and sole director Alexander Michael Mastromanno. Justice Murphy found that King Island Meatworks had made false or misleading representations concerning the place of origin of the meat it sold.

Justice Murphy, in a judgment released on 14 August 2012, stated that the use of the words in the company name and consequently in the company shop signage, newspaper advertisements, its logo, and domain name and website, conveyed the representation that all, or at least a significant proportion, of the meat that it sold was grown or raised on or was otherwise from King Island. This was not the case, as from July 2008 until February 2011 none of the meat it sold was sourced from King Island, and thereafter only very limited sales were made of meat that originated from King Island.

The Court accepted the ACCC’s contention that the audience being targeted would have been aware that King Island had a reputation production of high-quality beef. The company was found to have associated itself with that great reputation for high quality beef to position the business at the premium end of the market. According to Justice Murphy, the company director had an intention to convey the King Island origin representation by the use of the company name he chose.

The Judge referred to the fact  that many butcher shops in Melbourne may be named after place names or regions such as “Perth Meats”, “Melbourne Meats” and “Alansford Meats”. However, these names might not necessarily suggest anything about the place of origin of the meat sold in the shop.

Australian Food News has previously reported on a similar case earlier this year of a meat business misleading the public by misrepresenting that its beef products were sourced from King Island.