Wm Wrigley Jr. of Mars Inc. won a lawsuit against one of many cannabis producers for trademark infringement.
Wrigley had filed a lawsuit in federal courts in Chicago and California last year against several sellers of marijuana products, claiming their packaging infringed the trademarks of the company’s popular Skittles, Starburst and Life Savers. The company also in the lawsuit said marijuana companies that use candy trademarks create serious risks for children, who can easily mistake the products for candy, which is part of why the conglomerate sued the companies — to protect the public. Mars is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of chocolate, chewing gum, mints and fruit candies.
“At Mars Wrigley, we take great pride in making fun treats that parents can confidently give to their children and that children can safely enjoy,” a Wrigley spokesperson said. told Reuters by email. “We are deeply troubled to see our trademarks 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 Wrigley v. Roberto Conde, et al., the judges sent a strong message to cannabis companies – parody cannot be a defense against trademark infringement, writing Cannabis Law Blog.
Judgment was rendered against steven matawho runs a marijuana edibles business in Orange County under the name OC420. Mata advertised and sold edibles calling them “Medicated Skittles”, “Medicated Cannaburst Gummies”, and “Munchies Edible Deal”. The names and packaging were obviously designed to mimic Skittles and Starbursts, creating an almost identical design.
The judgment upheld that Mata’s conduct constituted trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition and deceptive acts, dilution under the relevant California Business and Professions Code and infringement statutes. The Court issued an injunction against any future infringement, infringement and deceptive acts.
Mata is to recall all previously produced products, packaging and advertisements and turn them over to Wrigley’s attorneys for disposal. In addition, Mata must account for all profits from these products and remit them to Wrigley. He is also obligated to pay statutory damages of $2 million per infringed trademark, prejudgment interest as well as Wrigley’s costs, including legal fees.
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