Hawke's Bay organic chicken farmers seethe over big poultry company's look-alike logo

What's in a name? Well, when you're starting a new business, it's a crucial ingredient for success, and that's why two Hawke’s Bay chicken producers have got their feathers ruffled.

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The Bostock brothers say the competitor is trying to steal the goodwill their organic business has worked hard for. Source: Seven Sharp

The Bostock Brothers, George and Ben, have an organic business they're proud of - but a rival producer has them seething.

The farmyard fight began in the Hawke's Bay five years ago.

"So for us, it's about producing real deal, free range organic chickens," Ben Bostock told Seven Sharp's Arrun Soma.

The Bostock Brothers is reflected in their branding, with their logo harking back to when bowl cuts were in vogue.

"To bring it back to that family feel is what we always wanted to do," George Bostock said.

But now their business, which makes up 0.4 per cent of the country's chicken market, is in a flap over the new birds on the block, George and Jo, which popped up in September.

"The fact that the two caricatures are side-by-side, and one is George and one is myself, Ben, and then they have copied that and emulated that to have another George and a Jo side-by-side, with the same product," Ben said.

"We're getting a lot people, countless amount of inquiries asking if this is George, that they're being confused over the fact is this our brand or is this another brand that we're doing, and it's that confusion that really hurts us."

On investigating further, the Bostock brothers discovered that George and Jo is a brand of New Zealand's third-largest poultry company, Van Den Brink Poultry.

"They have admitted to us they are not real people," George said.

"These people don't even exist," Ben added. "George and Jo is just a brand of Brinks. It's not a company. Everything else is the same. They own the chickens, they own the feed, they produce the chickens, and they even sell the George and Jo chickens just under that brand."

George added: "It's really, really disappointing for us when a large-scale chicken producer makes two fictitious characters to try and imitate the goodwill that we're trying to create."

However, Van Den Brink Group's Michael Sheridan said, "I think, the reality is the farms do exist. They are just a representation of real people, this farm here is one of our farms. The people that manage it are real people - they're farmers."

Van Den Brink poultry says it's told customers George and Jo represent the actual farmers, through advertising and on a website - and that the chickens are free range and antibiotic-free.

"It's is the furthest thing from our mind to try and mislead the market, that's what we find so insulting about all this," Mr Sheridan said.

While he "can't say there isn't some person that's been confused", Mr Sheridan said Brinks "will not be bullied over this".

"We took to great lengths to get it right, we have taken legal advice on this, and we think we're well within our rights to use the names George and Jo's."

But the Bostock Brothers aren't backing down, either.

"It does feel like the big 'David and Goliath' case, yeah," Ben said.