Dairy Farmers of Canada Dare to Block the use of the Term “Dairy-Free”

Kingston, NY - October 2, 2023


Dairy Farmers of Canada Dare to Block the use of the Term “Dairy-Free”

The Canadian dairy industry wants vegan cheese companies to stop telling consumers that their vegan products are dairy free. Or so it seems from a new attempt by “Dairy Farmers of Canada” to block the registration of “DARE TO BE DAIRY FREE!” as a trademark for non-dairy cheese.

In a case, filed in the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, against Treeline, a small New York-based vegan cheese company, the Dairy Farmers of Canada allege, among other things, that ”DARE TO BE DAIRY FREE! “deceptively misdescribes” Treeline’s vegan cheeses. Strange as it may seem, in their filing, the Dairy Farmers claim that Treeline’s use of “DARE TO BE DAIRY FREE!” would lead the average consumer to believe that Treeline’s dairy free cheeses “are dairy products.”

“What’s next?” was the initial (somewhat astonished) reaction of Michael Schwarz, Treeline’s founder and CEO.  “Are the wheat growers of Canada going to attack the Girl Scouts for selling their new gluten free cookies?”

Putting sarcasm aside, Treeline believes that the real purpose of the case is not just to cancel a trademark. Rather, it’s a heavy handed and anti-competitive attempt to impede the sale of all cruelty-free alternatives to dairy products.

“If these dairy farmers succeed in convincing the powers that be that vegan companies can’t use term ‘dairy free,’ they will have hamstrung the marketing of every vegan milk, cheese and yogurt company,” says Schwarz.

Ill-conceived and anti-competitive attacks on vegan foods by the animal-agriculture industry are not a new thing. In 2020 the California Department of Food and Agriculture, at the behest of the powerful dairy lobby, tried unsuccessfully to stop Miyoko’s Creamery from using the term “cruelty free” to describe dairy-free butter. Some US state legislatures - whipped into action by the meat industry - have even attempted to outlaw terms like “veggie sausage” and “veggie burger.” Several courts have found that to be unconstitutional.

“I regard this case a bid to eliminate competition and criticism,” says Schwarz. “They can’t defend what they are doing (like cruelly taking nursing calves away from their mothers and killing them and spewing greenhouse gases and pollutants), so they attack small vegan companies that are trying to fix the mess they’ve made.”

Unfortunately, Treeline is not in a financial position to pay attorneys to defend this attack by the Dairy Farmers. So it’s facing having to give up its DARE TO BE DAIRY FREE! trademark in Canada.

The irony of the fact that Kraft openly describes its plant-based Philadelphia cream cheese as “dairy free” is not lost on Schwarz.

“The dairy farmers attempt at bullying a little guy to set a precedent will not make me give up on the cause of dairy free cheese,” Schwarz says. “The animals, the planet and human health are too important for that.”


About Treeline

Established in 2011, Treeline is one of America’s oldest artisanal vegan cheesemakers, and is proudly vegan founder-led. Their specialty vegan cheeses are naturally fermented and crafted in their own vegan cheesemaking facility located in the heart of New York’s Hudson Valley region.

Treeline products have recently been voted best vegan cheese by tastingtable.com and thedailymeal.com and can be purchased in stores nationwide, including Whole Foods Markets, Sprouts, Giant, Wegmans, Natural Grocers, and many independents. They can also be purchased directly at treelinecheese.com.

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