Three recurring reasons for legal battles involving dog and cat food businesses have appeared in Petfood Industry’s coverage over the years: trademark infringement, class action lawsuits and false advertising claims.
In November, 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. Mars claimed that Big Heart Pet Inc., a subsidiary of Smucker, created a “confusingly similar” product.
In March 2014, a different pet food company, Clear Conscience Pet, took legal action to defend its federal trademark rights to the SLIDERS brand name. The company registered the trademark in 2010, but a competitor used the name “sliders” making the argument that sliders refers to a type of small sandwich and was not worthy of trademark protection.
As one example of the numerous class action lawsuits by consumers against pet food companies, in 2015 a California man filed a class action lawsuit against Purina claiming that Purina’s Beneful dog food had sickened two of his dogs, and killed a third.
In November, a California federal judge ruled that the proposed lawsuit failed to prove the product was unsafe. Nestle Purina PetCare will not face a class action lawsuit over allegations.
A legal battle between two major players in the pet food industry raged from May 2014 to November 2016, when Purina and Blue Buffalo announced that they have reached a mutually agreeable settlement of the lawsuits pending between them, related to 2014 false advertising of pet food claims.
In 2015, Netherlands-based Paragon Pet Products filed a lawsuit accusing Mars of deceiving and misleading dog owners with a claim that its Greenies dental chews are the “#1 Vet Recommended Dental Chew.”
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