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Weet-Bix tries to ban Weetabix to stop customers getting confused

We can sort of see why they might be...

108 boxes of Weetabix were destroyed after complaints that customers will confuse it with New Zealand brand Weet-Bix

What it means: A Little Bit of Britain is a small grocery store in New Zealand which sells, well, a little bit of Britain, mostly to homesick expats. Sanitarium, a New Zealand food company that makes millions of dollars a year, found out that A Little Bit of Britain was selling Weetabix cereal, threw a tantrum, and asked the NZ government to confiscate all Weetabix boxes because they were a copyright infringement on its own cereal, Weet-Bix.

To be fair to Sanitarium, Weetabix and Weet-Bix are pretty much the same product (and the New Zealand version was first). The cereal became two different brands in the 1930s and agreed to divvy up the world between them. Weet-Bix got New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, Weetabix got everywhere else.

Lots of economists think deals like this are kinda dodgy. When companies selling similar products have to compete with each other for business, they theoretically have to keep making their products better and/or cheaper to stop people buying from their rival. That’s good for consumers (that’s us). So by agreeing not to sell to each other’s customers, Weetabix/Weet-Bix are depriving superfans of sawdust-soggy cereal (serious question, does anyone actually like this stuff?) of getting the best value for money.

The two sides did eventually reached a compromise, FYI. A Little Bit of Britain can continuing selling Weetabix as long as it covers up its branding by sticking labels over the box. Phew.

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