Melbourne-based reusable coffee cup company KeepCup is taking Gloria Jean's to court, alleging the coffee giant has copied the design of its KeepCup Brew product.

According to KeepCup, Gloria Jean’s has released a product that looks very similar to KeepCup’s cork edition to the Brew Cup series. KeepCup alleges the only difference is the addition of the Gloria Jean’s logo. Since the accusation, Gloria Jean's has pulled the product.

“We are claiming both registered design infringement and misleading or deceptive conduct under s18 of the Australian Consumer Law,” KeepCup managing director Abigail Forsyth tells Broadsheet. “The case boils down to conduct which causes confusion in the minds of consumers, exploiting the reputation of KeepCup’s products and market presence to take sales. It’s a classic ‘piggypacking’ case.”

Gloria Jean's declined to comment on the matter.

Alex Farrar, a senior associate at Shiff & Co Lawyers, often deals with similar cases. She says this type of issue falls under the category of design law, which protects the visual and design elements of a commercial product.

“It doesn’t offer protection for the functionality of the item, but rather the way it looks, including the shape and any ornamentation,” says Farrar. “So KeepCup’s lawyers would be looking at things like the colour, the imagery (if any) on the cup, lid or band, and the use of the bold band around the centre and so on.”

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Introduced in 2014, KeepCups have become a regular sighting on the morning commute, offering a well-designed, eco-friendly alternative to the disposable cup. Earlier this year ABC’s War on Waste showed an old Melbourne tram filled with 50,000 coffee cups – the same number that arrives at landfill every half hour. As a result, Melbourne-based KeepCup witnessed a 400-per-cent increase in sales across the country.

“Everybody knows KeepCup, it has become almost like a generic term for “reusable cup” and it has a pretty devoted following,” says Farrar. “It will be interesting to see how KeepCup’s matter pans out, since they clearly have the resources and the will to litigate their case.”

keepcup.com/australia