Trademark infringement: Wrigley sues e-liquid maker
Andrei Mincov's commentary on the original article
This issue arises more and more often. Generally, a trademark only protects the brand in respect of products and services for which the brand is used by its owner. In theory, anyone may use the same or similar brand to make or sell completely unrelated products or services under that same brand. But then, there's the issue of famous marks which—at least in those countries that recognize the concept—allows their owners to enforce their famous marks against those who use them even for unrelated products and services. This also brings up the issue of unfair competition, which may be separate from straightforward trademark infringement. In other words, even if using the brand of a chewing gum in respect of e-juice is not trademark infringement, it surely is about getting a free ride on a brand that's not yours. The idea that the same trademark may be owned by two separate entities in two separate industries is based on assumption that the public would not link the two together and that one company is not using the brand in order to parasite on the fame of the other. Here, the chewing gum giant would have no problem proving the intent to take advantage of the brand that is unmistakenly linked in the public's mind to Wrigley—and something tells me that Chi-Town Vapers' lawyers would not be successful in convincing the court to let them off the hook based on the difference in products and services.