Unilever drops lawsuit against vegan food start-up

January 28, 2015 10:30 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Unilever, the massive food corporation that owns Best Foods and Hellman's, has dropped a lawsuit against vegan food start-up Hampton Creek. Unilever filed a complaint alleging that Hampton Creek was guilty of false advertising, arguing that its "Just Mayo" spread could not legally be called mayonnaise because it does not include eggs. Coincidentally, the good news for the start-up came on the same day that it learned it had raised $90 million in venture capital. 

In dropping the suit, Unilever actually had words of praise for Hampton Creek. 

"We applaud Hampton Creek's commitment to innovation and its inspired corporate purpose," said Mike Faherty, Vice President for Foods, Unilever North America, in a written statement. "We share a vision with Hampton Creek of a more sustainable world. It is for these reasons that we believe Hampton Creek will take the appropriate steps in labeling its products going forward."

Unilever said it has decided to let the start-up address issues of accuracy in advertising with "industry groups and appropriate regulatory authorities." However, Hampton Creek founder and CEO Josh Tetrick says that his company has no intention of changing its labels. He tells Forbes and the L.A. Times that he believes Unilever simply realized it didn't want to be the kind of company that files this sort of lawsuit. 

This case illustrates how important it is that start-ups work with an experienced small business attorney. It is not uncommon for up-and-coming companies to become the targets of Goliath corporations. If this happens to your enterprise, it is best to be prepared by already having expert legal counsel on your side and familiar with your business. 

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