The makers of the innovative edible bread bowls featured in Food Manufacture ('It's bread, Jim, but not as we know it ...', January, p28) have denied stealing the design idea from the firm Crusty Crock Pots.
Stuart Hepworth set up Crusty Crock Pots in the 1990s to sell his double-crusted 'crusty crock pots'. He claims Butt Foods' bread bowls infringe the design patent (No. 2034604) he registered 15 years ago. Protection of the registered design has been renewed until October 2008.
However, Butt Foods md David Williams said he was confident Hepworth's intellectual property had not been violated. He added: "Our patent and trademark attorney has advised us we are not infringing any registered design patents."
Hepworth said his Crusty Crock Pots were "not a roaring success" when they were launched in Safeway several years ago, but "did a lot of business with the catering trade"
When he first heard Butt Foods was launching bread bowls, he contacted the firm, concerned his patents were being infringed.
"It was galling to see what looked like exactly the same product getting all this publicity," said Hepworth. "My patent consultant and solicitor have checked out registered design number 2034604 and given me 99% assurance that Butt Foods' product contravenes my design.
"A warning letter has been sent by my solicitor, giving Butt Foods 28 days to conform to our requests; otherwise litigation will be brought against it."