Legal row over spice burger 'secret recipe'

Tuesday 25 August 2009 22.17
Spice burger - Future had been in doubt
Spice burger - Future had been in doubt

A legal row has broken out over the secret recipe for spice burgers.

Walsh Family Foods Limited, which has produced the burger for over 50 years, has taken High Court proceedings seeking to restrain a former director and owner of the company from using the recipe.

The company claims Patrick Walsh of St Canice's Road, Glasnevin, Dublin, has the recipe and is using it to produce and sell his own version of the burger, which it is claimed he is passing off as the original.

This afternoon in the High Court, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy granted interim injunctions to Walsh Family Foods restraining Mr Walsh or anyone he has given the information to from deleting or destroying it.

He also granted the company an interim injunction restraining Mr Walsh from deleting or destroying any of its confidential property.

Only the company was represented at today’s application.

A full application for an interlocutory injunction in the case will be heard on Thursday.

The future of the spice burger seemed in doubt earlier this year when a receiver was appointed to the sole manufacturer, Walsh Family Foods in June.

However, following an unprecedented public reaction to the news, the company recommenced production of the product, which is unique to Ireland.

The burger generated a turnover of €1.75m for the company in 2008.

According to the receiver appointed to the company, the spice burger is central to the value of the business, which he is in the process of selling.

Mr Walsh jointly owned the company with his sister until it was sold in 2000 for over £1m.

The company claims that from then until May of this year, he remained on as an employee and director.

The company claims that in April of this year as it was becoming clear the business was in difficulty, Mr Walsh obtained by email the secret spice mix recipe from the dry food ingredients company which manufactured it on behalf of Walsh Family Foods.

The recipe is said to be a closely guarded secret, known by very few people.

The company claims Mr Walsh then used it to instruct another dry ingredients manufacturer to prepare a spice mix which he subsequently used in the manufacturing of his own version of the burger.

Walsh Family Foods claims this spice burger, which is called the ‘Original Spice Burger Company’ was sold by Mr Walsh to its customers and is virtually identical to its own product in size, taste and weight.

The company is now seeking to stop Mr Walsh from destroying that email and the electronic trail connected to it.

In correspondence read to the court, solicitors for Mr Walsh deny that he has been employed by Walsh Family Foods since 2005 and as a result they say he is not precluded from using information he obtained during his time with the company.

Mr Walsh's solicitors also denied in the correspondence that their client had solicited customers of Walsh Family Foods, saying instead that they had approached him and urged him to fill the void left by the demise of the company.