Hershey's Settles Trademark Infringement Suit with Colorado Edibles Maker
Colorado edibles manufacturer TinctureBelle made news this past summer -- not for the potency of its products, but because of the remarkable resemblance of the small-time pot company's packaging to that of mega-international giant Hershey's. It was so similar, in fact, that Hershey's filed suit in federal court. The questionable candies included "Hashees" peanut butter cups, which were packaged like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups; Ganja Joy bars, which were similar to Almond Joys; and HashHeath Bars, which looked nearly identical to Heath Bars.
At the time, TinctureBelle owner Char Mayes argued that while the original designs might have been similar, the company had since changed them. "The lawsuit from Hershey came as a huge surprise to us, because we changed our entire label line approximately six months ago, long before these allegations surfaced," she said in a statement shared by Westword in June, noting that Hershey's hadn't even contacted TinctureBelle before filing the suit. "Our new packaging looks nothing like Hershey's or anyone else's."
That didn't used to be the case, as you can tell by the images shared here.
That might be the case, but Hershey's still came out on top. According to Food Product Design, a trade magazine for the food industry, Hershey's settled with TinctureBelle this month. While the complete details of the settlement weren't divulged, TinctureBelle must "destroy all remaining specimens of each product, including without limitation cartons, containers, packaging, wrappers, labels, displays and any other materials" as part of the deal. Furthermore, TinctureBelle is barred from ever making any "false or disparaging statements about Hershey and its products."
TinctureBelle isn't the first marijuana-related company to be sued by the candy giant. Seattle's Conscious Care Cooperative was also named in a June lawsuit for violating copyrights on Hershey's Mr. Goodbar and Reese's. The shop had apparently made "Reefer's" and "Mr. Dankbar" edibles.
While Hershey's didn't comment on the outcomes of these two particular cases, the company maintains that any confusion of Hershey's products with items that contain a federally illegal drug would be damaging to the brand's reputation. "The Hershey Company's trademarks are iconic and among our company's most important assets," Jeff Beckman, spokesman for Hershey's, told Seattle's KIRO-TV. "They are recognized by consumers around the world, and our company has spent as many as 120 years building the trust and equity in these iconic brands. Consumers depend on our brand names to represent a level of quality and dependability. These entities have used Hershey's trademarks, without authorization, to trade on Hershey's goodwill and reputation, and to draw greater attention to their products; these unauthorized uses of Hershey's trademarks also make the products more appealing to children."
Minors in Colorado cannot purchase medical or recreational cannabis, and minors on the state's registry must rely on their parents to get meds. Thus far, there have been no reported violations for sales to minors at any Colorado medical or recreational dispensaries.
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