By James Wells

SYDNEY: Sunbeam issued a statement today outlining the details of a legal battle it is fighting against competitor, Breville, which commenced in the Federal Court last month over claims relating to the performance and patented technology of its blenders.

Sunbeam claims it has released the statement to staff today “due to concerns that there may be some misinformation about this court action”.

According to the statement, Sunbeam commenced proceedings against Breville in relation to its claims in its advertising and packaging of superior blending performance and patented status of Breville’s Ikon blenders — the BBL600, which retails for $229.95 and the BBL550, which retails for $169.95.

“Sunbeam alleges in its court action that the Breville Ikon blenders, far from having a superior performance over Sunbeam or other blenders, in fact perform standard blending tasks (drinks, soups, sauces) to a lower standard than Sunbeam’s blenders,” the statement said.

“Sunbeam’s case relies on tests that have been carried out by an independent laboratory. Those tests compare the performance of the Breville Ikon 600 blender against the Sunbeam Fusion blender (which with a RRP of $49.95 is the company’s lowest priced blender) and against the Sunbeam MultiBlender Electronic blender (RRP $129, the company’s new blender with preset functions). Sunbeam alleges that Breville’s claims of superior performance for the Ikon blenders therefore contravene the Trade Practices Act. Breville disputes these allegations.

“Sunbeam also alleges that Breville’s claims on its Ikon blender packaging (and in its promotional campaign), stating that different components of this blender are patented, are false and contravene the Trade Practices Act. At this stage Breville does not admit those allegations,” the statement said.

“However in December 2006 it voluntarily submitted to interlocutory orders by the Federal Court that, until any further court orders are made, Breville must take steps that include:

• placing stickers over the word ‘patented’ on all Ikon blender packaging that it supplies after 22 December 2006;

• not manufacturing or packaging Ikon blenders after 22 December 2006 that contain any reference to the blender being patented (until such time as a patent is granted);

• taking all feasible steps as promptly as possible to place stickers over the word ‘patented’ on Ikon blender packaging that had already been supplied to stores;

• writing to all retailers that it has supplied Ikon blenders to and requesting that the swing-tags containing the word ‘patented’ be removed from display; and

• writing to Standards Australia asking that all references to ‘patented’ and ‘patent’ in context of the Ikon blender be removed from the website.”

According to the statement the Court has agreed that Sunbeam’s allegations should be heard on an urgent basis and at this stage the parties are working towards a hearing in February.

A spokesperson for Sunbeam said today: “As the case is still active there are no further comments at this time”.