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Food manufacturers battle over ownership rights of trademarked colors

BY Melissa Valliant

LONDON A recent legal battle against Australian chocolate company Darrell Lea has Cadbury showing its true colors as it fights to protect its trademarked color purple. The confectionary manufacturer is in the middle of a lawsuit accusing Darrell Lea of using purple packaging to purposefully deceive consumers into thinking the products were made by British sweets manufacturer Cadbury.

In April, the Federal Court of Australia ruled in favor of Darrell Lea, stating that the chocolate company had not breached the Trade Practices Act and had not designed its packaging to appear Cadbury-produced. Cadbury plans on continuing the fight, saying it will appeal the judge’s decision.

The heated battle truly exemplifies how important and valuable a brand has become in today’s market. Millward Brown Optimator reported that Coca-Cola’s brand is worth a whopping $58.2 billion. Ever since laws were passed in the 1990s allowing companies to trademark colors, corporations have jumped on the opportunity to personalize their brands with color. UPS registered a particular shade of brown, Tiffany’s trademarked a blue tone and McDonalds owns a certain shade of red and yellow.

Registering a color trademark prevents other companies from using a color shade within a particular marketing context. Cadbury is essentially fighting for its trademark on the color purple and defending its accusation of Darrell Lea’s use of purple to deceive consumers. “At the moment, Cadbury currently has uncertainty as to whether it can enforce its color purple in Australia,” said Gary Assim, head of intellectual property at UK law firm Shoosmiths.

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Supervalu reports dip in earnings for Q2

BY Jenna Duncan

MINNEAPOLIS Supervalu today reported its totals for second quarter 2009 sales and earnings.

Supervalu said that in the second quarter its net sales totalled $10.2 billion, compared with a total of $10.2 billion last year. The company’s net earnings checked in at $128 million, in comparison with $148 million at the same time last year (earnings per share totaled $0.60 diluted compared to $0.69 diluted in the second quarter 2008, including expenses related to acquisitions, which totaled $3 million and $19 million, or $0.01 and $0.05, respectively, pre-tax per share, diluted.

For its 2009 year-to-date total sales, Supervalu rang up $23.6 billion compared to $23.5 billion  in year-to-date sales for the same time last year. Net earnings reported totaled $290 million, compared to last year’s sum of $296 million last year, or $1.36 per share diluted, compared with $1.37 diluted for the same period in 2008.

Supervalu also reported that its retail food net sales for the second quarter totaled, $8.0 billion, remaining the same as the previous year. The company’s retail square footage was down by 0.1 percent from the second quarter of last year, a total that was partially offset by new store openings in several markets.

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Schnucks buys St. Louis area grocery stores

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS Three supermarkets in the Illinois portion of the St. Louis metropolitan area have come under the Schnucks banner.

The supermarket chain has acquired the O’Fallon Hart Food & Drug, the Bethalto Park N Shop and the Godfrey Park N Shop. The first two stores will be changed to Schnucks stores, while the third will close, but employees at all three stores will be offered jobs with Schnucks.

The acquisition gives Schnucks a total of 105 stores.

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