Procter & Gamble has filed a lawsuit against cosmetics company Vi-Jon in the US alleging that Vi-Jon is violating its intellectual property in regards to one of its mouthwash products.
The lawsuit has been filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio claiming that the mouthwash manufacturer and distributor is violating P&G’s rights by producing and selling its private label mouthwash product to retailers.
The product in question is the consumer goods giant’s Scope Outlast mouthwash. P&G assert that the bottle and label shape on Vi-Jon’s mouthwash product infringes its design patents trade dress, trademarks and copyright.
Cause of consumer confusion
The use of intellectual property without consent is prohibited by law as it can cause consumer confusion
P&G claims this is the case with Vi-Jon and is suing the company in order to protect its business and to prevent consumer confusion in the marketplace.
"Scope has invested in significant R&D to bring this product to market, and we take very seriously issues related to our intellectual property and competitive advantage," said Charlie Pierce, group president, P&G Oral Care.
"Vi-Jon is using and benefitting from our intellectual property, which we developed and promoted at great cost. We're taking this action to prevent consumers from being misled and to protect our business," he claims.
The lawsuit seeks to stop Vi-Jon from violating P&G's intellectual property and selling the infringing products.
Locked horns once before
It is not the first time the two companies have had dealings in the courtroom either, as P&G allege that Vi-Jon has made habit of mirroring its products.
Back in February 2006, the Ohio-based firm sued Vi-Jon in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York relating to a different mouthwash product.
This lawsuit alleged that Vi-Jon infringed and diluted the unique trade dress of P&G's Crest Pro-Health oral rinse, and also engaged in false advertising of its mouthwash product.
As with the current lawsuit, the previous one specifically alleged that Vi-Jon's packaging of its mouthwash product mimicked many aspects of P&G's packaging, including its distinctive ‘faceted diamond’ bottle shape.
It also claimed to have replicated the same shade of blue mouthwash rinse, and the shape, metallic finish and general color scheme of the label.
The case was settled shortly after it was filed and under the settlement Vi-Jon agreed to withdraw its product from the market, not use bottle designs that are confusingly similar, not make "compare to Crest Pro-Health" or gingivitis efficacy claims without specific testing to support these claims, and paid P&G monetary damages.