Ohio-based J.M. Smucker Co. filed a $10 million lawsuit Wednesday against Nestle S.A. and Nestle USA, alleging copyright infringement of its trademark checkered pattern that the later company allegedly use to sell baby food products in Puerto Rico.
In the 19-page document, J.M. Smucker claims Nestle “attempt[ed] to deceive the public and trade off the substantial goodwill” it has created through the familiar gingham design it has been using to identify its products since 1975.
J.M. Smucker stated it picked up on Nestle’s alleged infringement in the Spring, when it became aware that the latter company was manufacturing, distributing, and selling baby food products in Mexico that feature packaging that is nearly identical to its own. In October, the company filed an administrative action with the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property alleging that Nestlé S.A.’s use of such packaging violates Smucker’s longstanding rights to it.
“Yet despite of knowledge of Smucker’s exclusive rights in and to the Smucker marks and Smucker trade dress, [the] defendants now are manufacturing, distributing, and selling baby food products in Puerto Rico that feature packaging that is nearly identical to the Smucker trade dress, including elements that are nearly identical to the Smucker marks,” the plaintiff stated.
“Smucker will be irreparably harmed if the Defendants are permitted to continue their use of the Smucker marks and the Smucker trade dress in connection with their sale of baby food products,” the company claimed.
J.M. Smucker claims Nestle’s actions are causing it damages “in an amount that is not presently ascertainable.” However, it said it would seek at least $10 million to offset the losses.
The company has asked for a trial by jury.