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News article | 15 June 2021 | European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency

Peaky Blinders against a brewery and Wrigley against cannabis edible lookalikes

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Good morning everyone. Hope you are all doing good. For this week’s IP news.

 

Peaky Blinders

In a recent ruling, an LA federal court stated that Peaky Blinders’ producers are unable to oppose the trade mark “Peaky Blinder” used by a Birmingham-based brewery for their liquor and beer.

For those of you who don’t know, Peaky Blinders is set in 19th century Birmingham, focusing on a gang called the Peaky Blinders. It first aired in the UK back in 2014, while Sadler’s began selling their alcoholic beverages with the almost identical name in 2017. It was in 2017 when the brewery applied for a US trade mark; however, Mandabach (TV Show producer) sent a warning letter in 2018.

The trade mark battle began last November when Mandabach sued Sadler’s for the Peaky Blinder name, alleging that consumers might get confused and assume that there is an affiliation between the two companies. The brewery responded by stating that they choose the name due to its historical connection with the gang, adding that a former owner was a descendent of one of the gang members.

Mandabach’s preliminary injunction was rejected after they failed to prove that the highly similar name would cause confusion amongst consumers. Moreover, the production company did not illustrate that the alleged confusion was likely to be of irreparable harm to the TV show’s reputation.

Additionally, US district Judge Consuelo Marshall found that Mandabach did not prove that they had protectable interests in their unregistered trade mark, as their use of “Peaky Blinders” is considered descriptive or suggestive of a television show regarding a group of persons named the Peaky Blinders. Therefore, the show’s choice of such a historical name is one of the reasons for their failure to obtain the injunction.

 

Edibles vs candy

Mars Inc's Wm Wrigley Jr Co has filed lawsuits in several US federal courts against different sellers of cannabis products that allegedly imitate its packaging and infringe trademarks of its Skittles, Starburst, and Life Savers brands. Not only does this create a risk of confusion for consumers, but it also creates a risk for children, who could confuse edibles for candies. Hence, Wrigley alleges that it sued in part to protect the public from dangerous business practices.

Apparently, Terphogz, one of the accused, uses the name "Zkittlez" and a knock-off of Wrigley's "Taste The Rainbow" slogan to sell cannabis products and paraphernalia, a company that has proven to be quite successful, with Zkittlez goods commanding a 20% premium compared to similar products on the cannabis market.

This is not the first lawsuit to be filed by a candy company against an offending line of edibles. Indeed, other major companies like Hershey, Mondelez International, and Ferrara have sued makers of lookalike products on similar grounds as Wrigley. Since the companies making the edibles are smaller and newer than the companies suing them, these suits have all ended in settlements, with the offending companies stopping production of the imitations.

 

This is all for this week. See you next week!

 

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European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency