Mars sues Smucker over alleged pet treat similarity
Mars believes Smucker’s pill container pet treats could be confused with their own product.
Mars Inc. filed a lawsuit against J.M. Smucker for alleged trademark infringement of Mars’ Greenies Pill Pockets treats by Smucker’s Milk-Bone Pill Pouches pet treats, reported Pet Product News. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Virginia.
Mars claimed that Big Heart Pet Inc., a subsidiary of Smucker, created a “confusingly similar” product. Mars also took umbrage with the use of the term pouch to describe Smucker’s product, since the treat has only a hole, not an enclosed pocket.
Mars asked the court to determine damages and to prohibit the sale of the Pill Pouch brand and that all inventories of the treat be destroyed.
J.M. Smucker’s attorney responded that at least six other brands have similar products, such as Butler Scripts Pill Pals and Zoe Pill Pops.
Other problems for Smucker’s Big Heart Brands
On November 17, Big Heart Brands' pet foods and treats were discussed during J.M. Smucker’s earnings conference call about their second quarter of fiscal year 2017. Net sales in the pet food segment decreased by US$35.7 million to US$531 million. This decline was primarily due to volume/mix, which reduced net sales by 5 percent. This was driven by the Meow Mix and Kibbles 'n Bits brands.
Beyond financial data, Smucker’s president announced the company’s plans to offer their premium pet food in retail outlets other than specialty stores.