Baby care products are a big and highly profitable business and, like all highly profitable businesses, attract crime. Two recently filed cases are prime examples of this exploding crime wave: Pepperidge Farm Inc. v. The Gymboree Corp. and Anheuser-Busch Inc. v. Baby Beer Bottles Inc. et al.
In the first-mentioned case, Pepperidge Farm, the bakers of those tasty little GOLDFISH® crackers sued Gymboree, makers of cute, overpriced, little children’s clothes, for trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition after Gymboree introduced a “Little Goldfish” line of bibs, hats, shirts and shoes. The clothing items are decorated with tiny cartoon fish which, Pepperidge Farm claims, constitute “a reproduction, counterfeit, copy or colorable imitation” of its trademark.
It is further alleged that “[p]roducts bearing Pepperidge Farm’s GOLDFISH DESIGN are geared, in part, towards children,” the same market adDRESSED (pun intended) by Gymboree, such that confusion as to source of the goods, or sponsorship, is likely. (Although not mentioned by Pepperidge Farm, the author hereof has personally observed that much of Gymboree’s sales are to grandparents, who are often nearsighted and already confused.) In an effort to end this dastardly conduct – and possibly to make a few bucks – Pepperidge Farm seeks damages, punitive damages, Gymboree’s profits, attorney’s fees and costs and – oh yes – a permanent injunction. Take THAT you nefarious cracker attackers.
The second case is possibly even more legally significant. Anheuser-Busch, the brewer of BUDWEISER, the world’s most popular, mediocre beer, sued Baby Beer Bottles for – yup – trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition after Baby Beer Bottles began selling reusable baby bottles labeled Bunwiper: Baby of Beers. Anheuser-Busch claims this is “a deliberate attempt to deceive purchasers … by implying an association with the company.”
Personally, we think the only persons likely to be deceived are those who had consumed an excess of the Anheuser-Busch product. In any event, Anheuser-Busch, like Pepperidge Farm, is seeking damages, punitive damages, profits of the infringer, attorney’s fees and costs, and a permanent injunction.
It is interesting to note that both Pepperidge Farm and Anheuser-Busch have trademark licensing programs which involve payment of royalties by the licensees. Neither Gymboree nor Baby Beer Bottles bothered to seek a license before embarking on their respective crime sprees, thus demonstrating the depth of their depravity and simultaneously incurring the economic wrath of the trademark owners.
THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED: Big corporations lack a sense of humor, especially when it comes to the unauthorized (legalese for “unpaid”) use of their trademarks; either get a license or pick a different mark.