It appears Tayto, the snack food icon to generations of Irish people, is about to take a bite out of one of its fans.
The company that manufacturers Ireland’s most popular crisp, Tayto Ltd, has demanded that Galway band Toasted Heretic destroy all copies of their new album because of the cover artwork - a variation on the iconic Mr Tayto logo.
The album, Now In New Nostalgia Flavour, is a reissue of two albums from the late 1980s and is a recreation of the album sleeve of one of those albums, Songs For Swinging Celibates, which at the time appeared to arouse no reaction from the company.
Last December, however, Julian Gough, lead singer with the band, received the letter from trademarks and patents solicitors FR Kelly, on behalf of the company referring to Mr Tayto’s “malevolent mushroom grin” on the cover of the latest release.
As well as demanding the destruction of all copies of the album, the company ordered that all depictions of Mr Tayto should be removed from the band’s website and not be used in the future.
Reacting to the letter, Mr Gough said: “I was amazed. We love Tayto and Tayto suing Toasted Heretic is like the Vatican suing Fr Ted. I’m sure a lawyer would say that Fr Ted infringes the trademarks of the Catholic Church, but nobody is going to mistake one for the other. It’s obviously an affectionate homage.”
Mr Gough offered a compromise by agreeing to remove the image from the website but pointed out that the album cover had, in fact, added to the brand image over the years, saying the band would be ‘genuinely grateful’ if Tayto acknowledged their part in the brand’s ‘long cultural journey’.
Yesterday, Mr Gough said: “We’re not U2, we’ve never actually made any money from Toasted Heretic - it’s all a labour of love. We were hoping this reissue would eventually break even.
“We’ve actually spent twice as much on this album, which we’ve really just released for friends and relatives. You could call it love-based capitalism.”
However, a spokesman for the company said: “A trademark is pretty important and anyone aware of the commercial nature of these things wouldn’t be surprised at the company’s initial decision but we are in dialogue with Mr Gough and are seeking an amicable solution.”
Responding to this, Mr Gough said: “This is the first time I’ve heard the term ‘amicable’ but I am delighted, very pleased to hear that. I have a bag of Tayto on the table as we speak and it would be great if we could get over this misunderstanding without having to burn any albums.”