Northern Ireland news

Southern Tayto sold in Belfast hotel despite northern Tayto court action

Mark Ferris, and left, a vending machine at selling the southern version of Tayto crisps in the Clayton hotel in Belfast city centre
Brendan Hughes

Southern-manfactured Tayto crisps have been spotted in a Belfast hotel despite a recent high-profile court action against their sale.

Tayto NI took legal action last month against a sole trader for selling the Republic's brand of Tayto crisps to shops and pubs north of the border.

Mark Ferris said southern Tayto is widely available in Northern Ireland and it was "grossly unfair" he was targeted rather than larger businesses.

Among the various locations, the 48-year-old told how on Sunday he spotted the Republic's Tayto in a vending machine in the lobby of the Clayton hotel in Belfast.

He took a photograph showing several varieties of the southern crisps brand displayed in the top row of the machine.

"I just feel so sore – I see them in shops every day and it's only me that is being prosecuted for selling them. It's just not fair," he said.

The trader from Ballynahinch, Co Down, said he has received "non-stop" support since the legal action emerged.

On Monday, a Clayton spokeswoman said Vending.ie stocks the machines "so it really is a question for them", while Vending.ie did not respond to requests for a comment.

There were no southern Tayto crisps on display at the hotel yesterday and a different brand instead occupied the top row of the machine.

Mr Ferris has previously said southern Tayto had been available in the Bar Library in Belfast, as well as on Northern Ireland Railways and a gift shop at Stormont.

Tayto NI issued trademark infringement proceedings against Mr Ferris and the case reached Belfast's High Court last month.

His barrister confirmed to the court that the trademark breach was admitted, but stressed that the southern Tayto crisps were legally purchased from the Republic.

Counsel for the northern firm based in Tandragree, Co Armagh, insisted the case was about protecting its trademark.

Tayto in the Republic was founded in 1954, while Tayto NI began in 1956 with a licensing deal. The two companies operate entirely separately.

The legal action has highlighted the strict commercial distinctions between the two famous brands.

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