June 13, 2014
Trademark infringement is no laughing matter.
Really, you guys, it isn’t.
But try not to Snicker* – I mean, chuckle – at this story about Hershey’s getting upset with two marijuana dispensaries over the names of the pot-laced treats they are selling.
The first, Colorado-based Tincturebelle, makes “medicated gourmet edibles,” among other items. The second, Washington state’s Conscious Care Cooperative, does not make any marijuana-infused candies itself, but sells them in its store.
Marijuana has been decriminalized in both Colorado and Washington. However, violating another party’s trademark isn’t legal, and that’s what Hershey’s alleges Tincturebelle is doing with items like the “Dabby Patty,” “Buddafinger” and “Ganja Joy.” Hershey’s also doesn’t like Conscious Care Cooperative’s “Reefer” peanut butter cups and “Mr. Dankbar” candy bars.
In addition to the naming issue, Hershey’s also alleges the candies are packaged to look like Hershey’s products. Check out this side-by-side comparison here to see if you agree.
On a serious note, Hershey’s lawsuit raises the possibility that young consumers would be confused by the name and packaging of these adults-only candies and might accidentally ingest them. It’s hard to envision a Buddafinger making its way into the hands of a child by any way other than a really convoluted trail of accidents or bad decision-making, but I guess that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.
I have a feeling this is one of those lawsuits that won’t see itself to completion. Hershey’s has deep pockets and a lucrative, storied brand to protect; these marijuana dispensaries don’t have either. In other words, I doubt we’ll get to the merits of the case (Is there an element of parody here? Is there any actual likelihood of consumer confusion?). In a way, that’s too bad. I think it would be immensely entertaining to see a court full of straitlaced, buttoned-up attorneys and a dour-faced judge discussing pot candy.
*Discloure: Snickers candy bars are made by Mars, Inc., not Hershey’s. I couldn’t help myself.