More Extremely Silly Trademark Lawsuits: Mars vs. Hershey Over Totally Different Looking Wrappers

from the you-put-your-chocolate-in-my-trademark-lawyer dept

A ton of people have been submitting variations on this story of how candy company Hershey is suing candy company Mars, claiming that Mars' new Dove brand of chocolate and peanut butter candies has packaging that looks too much like Hershey's Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Most of the stories I saw didn't have any actual images to show, but the link here has the following two images:
And, similar to the recent legal spat we covered concerning beer cans, the wrappers look like they have two totally different designs. Given both of these cases happened in such close proximity, it does make you wonder if consumer goods companies are getting much more aggressive in trying to claim any package that has some incredibly superficial similarities now represents trademark infringement.

Update: As pointed out in the comments, Hershey's has a couple of newer packages that do appear a bit more similar, but still pretty different:


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    The Root, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 2:33am

    My gosh

    They do NOT look just like each other!

    One's brown, the other's orange. Can't companies tell the difference?!?! It's just a freking wrapper!!!!

    Glad i'm not in the mood for dissing both companies in a video... Oh wait, I just might..

     

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  2.  
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    BearGriz72 (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 2:48am

    Re: My gosh

    No ALL peanut butter & chocolate candies MUST be Reese's. They HAVE to own the Patent, Copyright, AND Trademark on the very concept of mixing chocolate and peanut butter together in ANY form! Who cares if the packaging looks nothing alike it must be the same candy, Right?
    /sarcasm

     

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  3.  
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    charliebrown (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 2:53am

    Re: My gosh

    Wait! They are both alike: They are both RECTANGULAR in shape!

     

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  4.  
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    Pete Austin, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 3:10am

    This version is slightly more similar

    http://www.hersheys.com/reeses/products.aspx#/REESE’S-Peanut-Butter-Cups-Miniatures

    But, seriously, Reece's packaging looks like crap compared to the Mars packaging. It's like Reeces are stuck in 1950. I can't imagine anyone would want to copy it.

     

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  5.  
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    Revi (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 3:11am

    I'm sorry, maybe I'm just not seeing it but other than being rectangles and having the words: peanut butter milk chocolate on them are there ANY similarities?

     

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  6.  
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    mike allen (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 3:26am

    question can a moron in a hurry tell the difference. or worse can a judge in a cotton wool world tel the difference the moron might the judge mmm juries out on that one.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 4:00am

    Hey, you got your trademark in my intellectual property. No you got your intellectual property in my trademark.

    Hey wait, this makes a great lawsuit.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 4:30am

    Re: This version is slightly more similar

    Pete Austin is right, it is more likely the Reese's Creams or Clusters packaging than the cups that they are concerned about, but still - way different with the Reese's and Dove names prominent on the packaging.

     

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  9.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 4:40am

    The title says it all

    Extremely silly lawsuit. Yes a moron in a hurry can tell the difference. Ive been eating Reese's cups for decades and there is no way I would ever confuse the packaging with the Dove cups. Ummmm Brown vs Orange? Who the hell is confusing them?

    If Hershey's wins this it will be on a settlement to reduce legal costs, but in all fairness, MARS should have enough cash to suffer through this one and hopefully file a countersuit for frivolous litigation.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 4:46am

    Re:

    If you look really hard and imagine it in black and white you kind can see a resemblance on the waves there.

     

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  11.  
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    Dr Michael Factor, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 4:56am

    Hershy vs. Mars

    I have no doubt that there is a market segment of sense-challenged Hershey eaters. The packages are the same size and the same distinctive rectangular shape.

    Whilst not the same, orange and brown are after all related colours. They are closer on the palette than primary blue and its complimentary orange.

    This reminds me of a decision in Israel relating to allegedly distinctive gold coloured plastic ice cream tubs. See http://blog.ipfactor.co.il/2009/08/06/israel-ice-cream-wars-cool/

     

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  12.  
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    Dr Michael Factor, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 4:56am

    Hershy vs. Mars

    I have no doubt that there is a market segment of sense-challenged Hershey eaters. The packages are the same size and the same distinctive rectangular shape.

    Whilst not the same, orange and brown are after all related colours. They are closer on the palette than primary blue and its complimentary orange.

    This reminds me of a decision in Israel relating to allegedly distinctive gold coloured plastic ice cream tubs. See http://blog.ipfactor.co.il/2009/08/06/israel-ice-cream-wars-cool/

     

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  13.  
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    Oh THAT Brian!, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 5:08am

    Does Coke know?

    OMG! The Dove package has something similar to the 'Dynamic Ribbon Device' that is prominent on Coca Cola cans. (That little orange swirl along the bottom of the package.)

    Maybe Coke should step in and join the case as a friend of Hersheys! I'll bet everyone gets the Dove package mixed up with a can of Coke...

     

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  14.  
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    abc gum, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 5:34am

    Well - thank goodness that Intellectual Property laws are in place to stop this egregious theft.

     

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  15.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 5:41am

    Re: Hershy vs. Mars

    I'm color blind, the exact color blindness that you would be referring to. While separately I may have a hard time making out that the Dove package is brown, even to my crappy eyes it's noticeably different then the Reese's package.

    Just for the fun of it I threw both pictures into Gimp and made them gray scale, they still look completely different.

    All the Reese's packages have that tie-dyed look and all the Dove packages have that liquid chocolate thing going. I can't see anyone making that kind of mistake unless they were completely blind. And that would be a hole mess of trouble if that argument worked (think any candy bar vs any other candy bar).

    I won't even go into "distinctive rectangular shape".

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 5:45am

    I LOST RESPECT FOR HERSHEYS WHEN THEY SUED THE FURNITURE COMPANY.

    Now I just have the Hersheies Squirts as that is what they have become. CRAP

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 6:05am

    Re: This version is slightly more similar

    Oh yeah, I get it now. Reese are upset that Mars made their product look luxurious whilst Reese's looks like the cheapest crap around. Got it!

     

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  18.  
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    chester, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 6:43am

    Oh I love Dove chocolate and I like Reese peanut butter cups. Thanks Hershey for bringing this to my intention. Next time im out ill have to try Doves instead.

     

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  19.  
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    Cowardly Anon, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 6:44am

    Ok, with the cans you showed last week, I could see how a moron in a hurry could confuse the two of them. Without taking a closer look I would have assumed they were different flavours of the same brand.

    This one on the other hand....wtf? Honestly. Not even a blind person could confuse those two.

    I like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups...I'm going to be sad when Hershey goes under b/c of money wasting crap like this and I can't get them any more.

     

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  20.  
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    DOlz (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re: My gosh

    And crimped ends, my god man don't forget the crimped ends!

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 7:21am

    Is it possible that they aren't claiming the old packaging looks similar, but instead that the *new* packaging looks similar?

    http://www.hersheys.com/assets/images/reeses/products/product_cremes.png

    I still think they are pretty different, but it looks a lot closer than what was posted in the article.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 7:22am

    Re: Re: This version is slightly more similar

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 7:22am

    Re:

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 7:27am

    Re:

    http://i52.tinypic.com/111thfd.png

    In case people don't feel like scrolling. Total BS claim for sure.

     

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  25.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 7:41am

    Re: Re:

    Thanks for facilitating my laziness! ;)

    I think we've gone far beyond the 'moron in a hurry' and well into the stoned-outta-his-head-stoner test. Which is funny because a SOHHS wouldn't care which he has... they're both edible.

    When will it become prohibitively costly in penalties for these frivolous lawsuits to be filed?

     

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  26.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 7:51am

    Re: Re: My gosh

    They has ripples! And swirly stuff in the background!

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: My gosh

    They also both say 'Peanut Butter' on them, obviously this is unacceptable as THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE.... (wait that was a movie reference, not a law) hmm....

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 8:01am

    aren't most of their customers to stupid know the difference? That's what I take away from this =)

     

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  29.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 8:36am

    Re:

    I can see where you're going, but even if there was a case here, wouldn't it be the other way around? Dove has had that unique look since back when I only remember them making soap (is that the same company?). And when I first saw one of their chocolate commercials, they had that distinct ripply (silky as they say) look.

     

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  30.  
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    Darren (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 9:09am

    Does it matter?

    I don't think that any similarities matter, really. All that matters is that - if this case is settled - it will act as precedent for other frivolous cases of the same sort. If it's not looking too good for Hershey, the just drop the suit.
    More legal drivel systemic in our over-litigated society.

     

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  31.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 9:43am

    Updated...

    Updated the post with the other Reeses products that do look a bit more similar...

     

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  32.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 11:38am

    Re:

    This one on the other hand....wtf? Honestly. Not even a blind person could confuse those two.

    Actually I think those are the only people who could confuse them.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 12:09pm

    Assuming those are the right images, the plaintiffs have an awfully tough uphill battle.

    I'm intriqued, though, that Mike thinks the packing in this case is "a bit more similar" whereas he thought the packaging in the beverage case was not similar at all. I thought the beverage cans were pretty similar.

     

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  34.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 12:52pm

    Re:

    I don't think they look the same at all. The only thing similar is that they both have EEEEXTREEEEM TRYBAL INKZ (that's 'extreme tribal ink' for those who don't speak/read Extreme)all over them. And just about everything marketed to the... which letter are we on for generations now?... use excessive (sorry... 'Extreme') amounts of that crap too. So how is a competitor an infringer and a clothing manufacturer with the same design elements not?

     

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  35.  
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    hmm, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 1:36pm

    well

    How about Dove soap sues Mars because people might try to wash themselves with a chocolatey peanut butter confection believing it was dove soap?

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 2:33pm

    Lets apply a gaussian blur 20 and see if they look a like. That would probably qualify as the test for "A moron in a hurry".

     

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  37.  
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    okwhen (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 2:49pm

    This is completely off topic however, if anyone is annoyed tape your eyelids open and place chocolate on your eyeball for a few hours and then get back to me. People purchasing items from the Mars corporation are contributing to the cruelty of animals. Mars continues to subject animals to horrific testing all for the sake of candy. Please purchase an alternative.

     

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  38.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 4:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: My gosh

    What do you want to bet Dove also has "Net Wt." copied somewhere in the package.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 10:23pm

    Re:

     

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  40.  
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    brit, Dec 3rd, 2010 @ 5:25am

    perspective

    well from a marketer's perspective I think the packaging shown for the "select" products from Reese's looks very similar. it looks like they could have been made from the ame template.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2010 @ 5:26am

    Re: perspective

    **same sorry

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2010 @ 7:57am

    Re:

    My eyeballs taste like chocolate and peanutbuttery goodness now. Thanks!!

     

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  43.  
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    Not an electronic Rodent, Dec 5th, 2010 @ 10:01am

    Re: perspective

    well from a marketer's perspective I think the packaging shown for the "select" products from Reese's looks very similar. it looks like they could have been made from the ame template.
    What? In as much as the packages are a similar shape, the curved (but different shaped) "design" goes a similar direction the logo is top left and both have an idealised picture of the product on? That's a bit of a stretch don't you think? What in those similarities isn't wholly generic? I know the "morons" are in even more of a hurry these days, but I can't see any confusion from even the biggest moron in the greatest hurry (well except maybe a lawyer).

    Besides when I looked at that I immediately recognised "Dove" as being the american brand name for what's called "Galaxy" in england and they've used a similar style on their packageing over here for ages, which suggests to me it has far more to do with "corporate branding image" than anything else. Just coz they decided to offer another type of filling doesn't seem a good excuse for a lawsuit.

     

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  44.  
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    Heidi T, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 12:25pm

    Note

    Please note that the article admitted that they couldn't find the packaging that the lawsuit is pertaining to. We don't actually know which items are being compared.

     

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  45.  
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    pesti (profile), Sep 27th, 2011 @ 6:27pm

    Chocolate Lovers

    I come from that ever growing community of "Chocolate Lovers"
    and I definitely know the difference between a Hershey product and a Dove/Mars. With all the damn consumer surveys they do for everything else, you think that Hershey would spend a little money doing one of those on the subject instead of a lot more on litigation.....Every time I have to spend a $1.50 on something that used to cost .50 cents, I see the day coming that I can no longer afford to indulge. Why can't big companies like these take note of consumer popularity and loyalty and pass down the perks by spending less on advertisement (*which they hardly need now) and stupid litigation like this one.

     

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