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.”
By Lindsay Beaton
This country is straddling the line between developing and developed as more of its citizens see the value in pet ownership.
By Lindsay Beaton