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Heinz Israel, which markets Remedia products, petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday for an interim order preventing Materna, made by rival Maabarot, from marketing its porridges for infants in new packaging launched a week ago.

Remedia has badly lost market share for its baby formulas after the soy version was implicated in infant deaths and nervous system damage in November 2003. Now its parent company, Heinz Israel (51%), claims the new Materna packages are an imitation of the Remedia containers, which have been sold for years.

Its packages for porridge are unique, Heinz Israel says, and the company established a production line to make just them. It also says the form of the packages is identified with it, and that Materna is trying to muscle onto its turf by aping the design.

Heinz Israel also claims Materna is targeting infants from 3 months of age, while the Remedia product claims suitability for 4 months and up. That constitutes unfair competition, says Heinz Israel: A customer would begin buying the Materna product earlier and become habituated.

Experts and the European standard say babies should not have the product before 4 months of age, Heinz Israel writes in its petition.

"Materna believes, and is right, that Remedia's reputation in baby food remains strong despite what happened, and wants to build on it using illegal means, copying the packaging that identifies Remedia products," Heinz Israel writes.