Estee Lauder Cosmetics has filed a lawsuit against fragrance maker Preferred Fragrance for alleged trademark infringements of its Clinique brand perfume products.
The suit, filed yesterday in a New York district court, also extends to the pharmacy retailer CVS Caremark Corporation and the discount store Family Dollar for stocking the imitation products.
Products such as 'Impression of Happy by Clinique' and 'Impression of Beautiful by Estee Lauder' produced by the Brooklyn-based perfume company were mentioned in the suit, according to press reports.
The global cosmetics giant has accused Preferred Fragrance and the retailers of trademark infringement, false advertising, diluting trademarks and unfair competition.
This is not the first time the fragrance manufacturer has been in trouble with the larger companies - in 2005 Elizabeth Arden filed a similar suit in an Ohio court.
Brand protection is becoming increasingly important in the personal care industry and cases against smaller companies allegedly capitalising on the brand recognition of industry leaders are not uncommon.
Fellow US company Procter and Gamble is no stranger to the courts regularly filing lawsuits in an attempt to protect its brand recognition.
Hijack brand followers
Earlier this year the company accused Blue Cross Laboratories of manufacturing shampoos and conditioners in similar shaped bottles to the Herbal Essences products in an attempt to take advantage of customer awareness of the brand.
The company said it believes that the status quo is causing confusion and could damage the brand eating into the consumer loyalty and success Herbal Essences has established.
P&G legal officer Jim Johnson said: "We believe this is a clear case of infringement designed to take advantage of consumer loyalty and business growth that P&G developed through the reinvention of its Herbal Essences brand."
A few months earlier in late 2007 P&G filed another lawsuit against the Fruit of the Earth which it claimed was manufacturing look-a-like products mimicking the Olay Regenerist line.
These products were also being marketed though CVS outlets, according to the company.