Dairy Queen Loses On ‘Blizzard Water’ Trademark Suit With W. B. Mason
from the brrrrrrr dept
Late last year we discussed a plainly stupid trademark lawsuit brought by Dairy Queen, which makes tasty frozen snacks, and W.B. Mason which is a strange combination of furniture and grocery store. At issue was the latter’s attempt to trademark some bottled water it sells under the brand “Blizzard Water”. Notably, W.B. Mason had sold water under that brand since 2010 without issue and it was only when Dairy Queen caught wind of the trademark application that it decided to sue over the potential for confusion with its blizzard ice cream products.
If you didn’t read that original post, you’re probably now wondering why this is a thing at all, given that water and ice cream are very much not the same products and that the two companies operate in different marketplaces. Well, according to Dairy Queen’s suit, it sells blizzards as noted, and it also sells Dasani bottled water, therefore there would be customer confusion.
Fortunately, in a massive decision, the court saw how silly that argument was and found in favor of W.B. Mason.
In a 217-page decision made public on Friday, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson found a lack of evidence that consumers were confused by the Blizzards or that W.B. Mason, an office products distributor, intended to confuse anyone.
While acknowledging that W.B. Mason, which has two trademarks for Blizzard copy paper, was not a competitor, Dairy Queen said consumers might be confused because its U.S. restaurants sell bottled water. But the judge said the products had “very different audience appeal,” and co-existed for 11 years despite evidence that Dairy Queen’s Blizzard had achieved “iconic” status, with U.S. sales reaching $1.1 billion in 2020.
Notably, as part of the facts the court uncovered and laid out in its decision, W.B. Mason doesn’t even sell its water direct to consumers. Instead, it sells water to be used in office break rooms, as the majority of its business is in office furniture. On top of that, the court points out that Dairy Queen offered no evidence of any actual customer confusion that occurred over nearly a decade.
“Dairy Queen introduced no evidence of an actual association between the two products,” Nelson wrote. “If association were to occur, in all likelihood, it would have occurred by now.”
Dairy Queen has made some noises about appealing the ruling, but I doubt that will happen. This whole thing has been a trademark suit nothingburger from the start.