Hershey Company has settled the trademark infringement lawsuit it filed in June against TinctureBelle, LLC and TinctureBelle Marijuanka LLC, Colorado based marijuana-candy companies. Hershey claimed consumers would be confused by the similarities between marijuana-infused chocolate products and popular Hershey favorites. Other included claims were: trademark dilution, false designation of origin, unfair competition, and passing off.

The lawsuit began in June when Hershey filed the suit in Colorado federal court accusing TinctureBelle of infringing upon trademarks for Heath Bars, Almond Joy, York Peppermint Patties, and Reese’s. With similarity to such kid-friendly products, the case posed safety concerns in addition to the financial and confusion concerns typical of trademark suits. Besides safety concerns, Hershey feared its reputation as a wholesome family company would be tarnished by association with marijuana—or even consumers believing it had entered the marijuana business.

It is unclear why the lawsuit settled so quickly as it seems Hershey had a good chance of winning. A quick look at the packaging reveals the striking similarity, making a strong case under §43(a) of the Lanham Act. Also, federal trademark law does not protect marks for cannabis products, whose main ingredient is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug.

TinctureBelle must cease use of such names as “Hashees,” packaged like Reese’s, “Ganga Joy” packaged like Almond Joy, and “Hashheath” packaged like Heath bars as well as recall already sold products and destroy any unsold merchandise. TinctureBelle is also prohibited from making any disparaging comments about Hershey. TinctureBelle had also begun an online campaign to pay for its legal costs, which it is also required to take down.

Back in August, Hershey settled with Conscious Care Cooperative, a Seattle-based company who was selling products like “Reefer’s Peanut Butter Cups.” The terms of that settlement were similar. Conscious Care claimed it was only a reseller of products made by a company called Seattle’s Finest Edibles.

 

Chastity Bobo

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