Colgate sues over use of Total brand name

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Oral care giant Colgate-Palmolive is suing both Johnson & Johnson and Chattem over claimed misuse of its toothpaste brand Total.

The company has filed two separate lawsuits in New York City courts, both of which claim that the brand name has been used in ‘violation’ of its registered trademark, a Reuters article claimed.

Both companies carry oral care lines that bear the Total name in their branding, including Johnson & Johnson’s Listerine Total care product line, as well as Chattem’s Act Total Care Mouthwash.

Colgate demands that both companies withdraw their trademark applications and stop trading these products under the Total name with immediate effect.

Colgate wants to reclaim Total as its very own

Both in the States and in leading markets worldwide the Total toothpaste brand has a leading market position, with the brand often cited by Colgate as being one of its leading marketing tools.

Launched in 1997, the Total family of oral care products is not only marketed on the strength of its oral health care attributes, but also on the fact that it provides protection against exposure to oral bacteria.

The lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson has been filed because Colgate claims that a previous dual marketing arrangement with brand owner Pfizer to promote the Total brand in unison with the Listerine brand, became void when it was bought up by Johnson & Johnson back in 2006.

Stamping out Total brand sharing

Colgate claims that subsequent to the acquisition the company launched the Total Care mouthwash range without consulting it and with reference to the agreement made before the acquisition.

Colgate says it wants to ensure that the Total brand is not diluted by cross-marketing campaigns carried out by other oral care providers, wishing to preserve the brand uniquely for use to promote Colgate products.

Last week Colgate announced that lower costs had boosted its second quarter profits, despite the fact that global sales fell on the strength of the dollar.

Profits up but sales down

Net earnings rose by 14 percent to $561.6m, a figure that was boosted by the fact that it had been hit by significant restructuring charges in the corresponding period last year.

Sales revenue fell by 5.5 percent to $3.75bn, a figure that was also below analysts’ expectations of $3.81bn, which the company said reflected a 1.5 percent dip in sales volumes.

The sales figure was also impacted by an 11.5 percent hit from international currency weakness against the dollar, which was partly counterbalanced by the fact that global pricing increased by 7.5 percent.

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