17 May 2023

Family-owned business renames Percy Pig ice cream after Marks & Spencer’s friendly request

With two locations in Hertfordshire, Fabio’s Gelato is a family-owned gelato producer and dessert parlour. On 2 May 2023, Fabio’s Gelato posted an announcement of a new gelato flavour, ‘Perky Pig’, coming to its Letchworth parlour. Marks & Spencer (M&S) caught wind of this quickly and sent a letter, dated 5 May 2023, addressing the potentially infringing name of the new flavour.

‘Percy Pig’ – a hero brand

The letter politely explains that ‘Percy Pig’ is one of M&S’s hero brands and they own registered trade marks to protect it. M&S asked Fabio’s Gelato to change the name of the ice cream within 14 days of receiving the letter to resolve the matter “amicably” whilst even suggesting a few potential alternatives. However, M&S also made it clear that it was happy for Fabio’s Gelato to continue using the famous sweets to top the ice cream. Fabio’s Gelato took to social media to share the letter, along with a bag of ‘Percy Pig’ sweets that M&S had sent to “sweeten the deal.”

Rebrand to ‘Notorious P.I.G

Provisionally renamed as ‘Fabio’s Pig’, the news gave Fabio’s Gelato so much media exposure that it was decided to host a competition for its Facebook followers to come up with a new name, promising a Fabio’s voucher for the winner. With over 100 entries, the winning name was ‘Notorious P.I.G.’

Small businesses and trade mark infringement

The swift response highlights how important the ‘Percy Pig’ brand is to M&S, acting within three days to  prevent any potential brand dilution. However, the way M&S dealt with the situation has received praise, showing an understanding that a smaller business may simply not be aware that their products could infringe other brands’ intellectual property rights. 

M&S has shown that matters of trade mark infringement can be solved quickly and amiably between the parties involved. There are benefits of a gentler approach and methods of dispute resolution available to maintain everyone’s best interests. It has even resulted in some good publicity for both parties, showing that a positive approach can result in the best outcome all round.

As for the new ‘Notorious P.I.G.’ ice cream – Fabio’s Gelato is“frantically making more!”