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Food Company Files Willful Infringement & Unfair Competition Claim

Posted by Brandon Selinsky on Jun 12, 2017 11:05:42 AM
Brandon Selinsky
Amplify Snack Brands has filed a Federal Trademark Infringement and Unfair Competition lawsuit to prevent its competitor Snyders-Lance from the use and importing of popcorn products copying Amplify’s SKINNYPOP® popcorn trademark.

Amplify Snack Brands has filed a Federal Trademark Infringement and Unfair Competition (UC) lawsuit to prevent its competitor Snyders-Lance from the use and importing of popcorn products copying Amplify’s SKINNYPOP® popcorn trademark. SKINNYPOP® is one of the largest popcorn makers in the United States with over $200 million of sales in the United States in 2016.

Amplify’s lawsuit alleges that Snyders-Lance is preparing to introduce a competitor popcorn brand called Metcalfe’s “Skinny” popcorn.

As a basis for legal action, the complaint lists willful infringement of Amplify’s SKINNYPOP® trademark and an effort by Snyders-Lance to confused consumers. This case emphasizes the basis of UC claims, which occur when competitors are placed at a disadvantage as applied to other competitors in the same industry. Most often when UC applies in the case of trademark usage, there are elements of deception, dishonesty, and fraud involved. For individuals who have been sued for UC, it is frequently essential to quickly retain the assistance of a seasoned trademark or intellectual property attorney. 

The Basis of Unfair Competition Claims

A large number of UC claims involve applicable law under the federal Lanham Act that prohibits one company from attempting sell goods as affiliated with the service of another company. Because UC law is broader than just trademarks, a company need not demonstrate trademark ownership or infringement in order to assert an UC claim. If an unfair competition claim is successful, a company will be able to stop future unfair practices from its competitor as well as potentially receive financial from compensation for any resulting damages that the party incurred.

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UC Applied to Trademarks

There are some unique considerations when a UC occurs in the context of trademark infringement. Trademark infringement is intended to deceive the public, which is why the act is considered a form of UC. This unfair competition also can adversely affect a consumer because the consumer is at risk of purchasing lower quality goods due to trademark confusion.

The applicable federal law prohibits the “false designation of origin” which means that companies are strictly prohibited from attempting to create this type of confusion for consumers as well as financial interference with competitors. In addition to this prohibition, companies must also abide by dilution laws, which occur when the use of a trademark in any tarnishes the reputation of a trademark. In the previously mentioned popcorn case, Amplify Snack Brands argues that Snyders-Lance product will negatively impact Amplify’s trademarked SKINNYPOP®popcorn.

Reasons to Retain the Services of a Skilled Trademark Attorney

If you are a trademark holder who is experiencing UC from a competitor or if you have been accused of unfair competition, you likely need the assistance of a skilled trademark lawyer. The lawyers at Whitcomb, Selinsky, McAuliffe, PC are dedicated to successfully obtaining whatever trademark related goals are desired. Obtain the services of our firm today by calling our Denver office at (303) 534-1958. 

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Topics: Trademark Law