Mars Inc’s Wm Wrigley Jr. won a lawsuit against one of several cannabis producers for trademark infringement.
Wrigley had filed a lawsuit in Chicago and California federal courts last year against several sellers of marijuana products claiming their packaging infringed trademarks of the company’s popular Skittles, Starburst and Life Savers. The company also in the lawsuit said that marijuana businesses that use candy-company trademarks are creating serious risks for children, who can easily confuse the products for candy, which is in part why the conglomerate sued the businesses – to protect the public. Mars is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of chocolate, chewing gum, mints and fruity candy.
“At Mars Wrigley we take great pride in making fun treats that parents can trust giving to their children and children can enjoy safely,” a Wrigley spokesperson told Reuters via email. “We are deeply disturbed to see our trademarked brands being used illegally to sell THC-infused products.”
One of the lawsuits was resolved by a judge who ruled in favor of the plaintiff. In the case of Wrigley vs. Roberto Conde, et.al, the justices sent a strong message to cannabis companies – parody can’t be a defense argument against trademark infringement, writes Canna Law Blog.
The judgment was declared against Steven Mata, who runs a marijuana edibles company in Orange County under the name OC420. Mata was advertising and selling edibles calling them “Medicated Skittles,” “Medicated Cannaburst Gummies,” and “Munchies Edible Deal.” The names and packaging were obviously crafted to imitate Skittles and Starbursts, creating an almost identical design.
The ruling confirmed that Mata’s conduct constituted trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition and deceptive acts, dilution under relevant California Business and Professions Code statutes and counterfeiting. The Court issued an injunction against any future counterfeiting, infringement, and deceptive acts.
Mata has to recall any products, packaging and advertising already produced and give them to Wrigley’s attorneys for elimination. Further, Mata must give an accounting of all profits from these products and turn them over to Wrigley. He is also compelled to pay statutory damage of $2 million per counterfeit mark, pre-judgment interest as well as Wrigley’s costs, including legal fees.
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