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A lot goes into the decision of how to package a given product. Who's the target consumer? What kinds of emotions do certain colors evoke? What font catches the eye? It's not usually a haphazard process. And with millions of dollars at stake, this is no less true within the candy industry, especially as people catch wind that sugar and corn syrup are somehow "bad for you." With a tight market, that could be why Dum Dums is suing Tootsie, claiming their packaging is too similar to that of the famous sucker.
A Lawsuit for Suckers
Spangler Candy Company, the makers of Dum Dums, filed the lawsuit against Tootsie Roll Industries on Friday. According to court documents, Spangler claims that the packaging for Tootsie's lollipops, Charms Mini Pops, is too similar to the packaging of Dum Dums. Charms used to be sold in a yellow bag with "Mini Pops" in multi-colored lettering. Now, they're in a red bag with the quantity, "300," positioned in a circle at the lower right corner of the bag. At first, they might not seem that similar as you scoff at yet another ridiculous lawsuit. But then you start to notice the similarities.
The lollipop lawsuit alleges that Tootsie Roll's packaging amounts to trade dress infringement and unfair competition. Trade dress infringement is similar to trademark infringement, but it relates specifically to the look or packaging of a product.
In this case, Spangler argues that Tootsie's packaging amounts to trade dress infringement because "customers are likely to confuse the products and their source of origin." To add insult to injury, Tootsie even uses the same yellow pallet boxes to stack the bags of candy at the end of each aisle, according to the lawsuit.
Even if you're not marketing a product as famous as Dum Dums, you might still have to deal with trademark, trade dress, or unfair business practices. If you're concerned about any of these, seek the advice of an experienced attorney to help protect your business.