Hormel fights potential black eye over 'Black Label'
June 21, 2017
by Erica Shaffer
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Hormel Foods Corp. filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against St. Louis, Missouri-based Nestle Purina Petcare Co. for using the Black Label mark on Purina’s Beggin’ brand of pet treats.
In a complaint filed May 23 in US District Court in Minnesota, Hormel said Purina launched a new line of bacon-shaped pet treats under the Black Label designation in January. “Upon information and belief, Defendant adopted the BLACK LABEL mark for use with its bacon-shaped, “real meat” dog treats with knowledge of Hormel Foods’s BLACK LABEL Mark and with an intent to trade on the goodwill in Hormel Foods’s BLACK LABEL Mark,” Hormel said in court documents.
Hormel said the company did not authorized Purina to use the Black Label mark and informed the pet food manufacturer of the alleged infringement in a letter dated Jan. 6. In its complaint, Hormel has asked the court to bar Purina from using the Black Label mark. The company also has asked for a jury trial, monetary damages and taxable costs and attorneys’ fees.
“Hormel Foods has used its BLACK LABEL mark in connection with bacon for more than 50 years, promotes the BLACK LABEL bacon brand very actively, and owns long established rights for the mark,” Hormel said in a statement. “Because our brands and trademarks represent a standard of quality and value to our consumers, customers, and shareholders, willful unauthorized use of our BLACK LABEL mark is taken very seriously, and we will protect our brand vigorously.”
In a response, Purina said, “We respect intellectual property rights, including trademarks, which are meant to protect against consumer confusion. We are confident that consumers are not confused between Hormel’s bacon and Purina’s Beggin’ dog treats. Black label is a term widely used across industries — for products like alcohol, food, clothing and cars — to designate premium quality.”