A large number of people that use e-cigarettes today (often referred to as “vapers,”) like to use e-liquids that come in a variety of flavours such as fruit or candy. While these users are growing in numbers, making companies offer more and more flavours they are familiar with, there is a candy company that does not want one of their brands associated with e-cigarettes. The makers of the long-time favourite Fruit Stripe Gum, Ferrara Candy, have filed a lawsuit against TrinitySun, Inc., claiming that the trademark rights they own for Fruit Stripe Gum have been violated by the e-liquid known as “Fruit Stripe.”
TrinitySun did alter the name of their product to just “Striped Gum;” however, the packaging does still feature a photo that still looks a great deal like the candy in question. Ferrara Candy has indicated they fear parents will believe that they have authorised this product to use their trademark, making it seem that the e-liquid is marketing children using the brand. The company states in the papers it has filed that it would irreparably and dramatically harm Ferrara Candy and its Fruit Stripe trademark if parents thought they were trying to use their familiar candy brands to hook children into nicotine products.
Ferrara Candy states that they tried to contact TrinitySun on several occasions regarding the matter, including the sending of letters expressing cease orders. The company states that TrinitySun only slightly changed the packaging and did not eliminate the marks in questions completely. Since the lawsuit was filed TrinitySun has since taken the product off their website.
TrinitySun’s president has stated that his company has gone along with Ferrara Candy’s requests. He stated that the company had requested him to remove a flavour that was labeled as Fruit Stripe gum, and so he did. The company replaced that packaging with a flavour named Striped Gum approximately six months ago. Ferrara does not believe that enough has been done and that the existing product is still too much like the logo and name of their product and want this e-liquid permanently removed.
This particular effort could signal a larger problem for the e-cigarette industry that routinely offers flavours that are very similar to cereals and candies on the market today. A quick view at the shelves at a local shop offering e-cigarettes shows that there are a number of flavours available that come very near to the packaging, design and name of other trademarked products.
What is your opinion? Should e-liquid manufacturers stop using names and likenesses of well-known products? Is there a good way to market and offer flavours like this without infringing on trademarked logos?