Tate & Lyle's bittersweet symphony

We all know protecting your intellectual property (IP) is one of the most important first steps to starting a business – but what happens when even that isn’t enough to protect your business from copycats?

That’s something sugar leviathan Tate & Lyle discovered yesterday, when share prices dropped by more than 5% after an international tribunal ruled Chinese copycats will be allowed to keep on making cheap imitations of one of their flagship products, zero-calorie sweetener Splenda.

The ruling came after a last-ditch attempt by the company to ensure the security of their IP following an initial ruling made in September. The case is estimated to have cost Tate & Lyle around £10m.
Despite the discouraging outcome, Tate & Lyle Sucralose president Karl Kramer remained optimistic about Splenda’s future.

“While this development is disappointing... our business is built upon long-standing relationships with some of the world’s leading food and beverage manufacturers, as well as the established Splenda brand which is renowned as a high quality, reliable and trusted product in a number of markets.”

And with those ‘long-standing relationships’ including brands such as Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, we’re sure Tate & Lyle won’t feel the pinch too much.

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