Colgate and Glaxo bicker over rights to toothpaste 'nurdle'

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Colgate, Toothpaste, Trademark, Colgate-palmolive

Colgate Palmolive and GlaxoSmithKline, respectively the world's number one and two toothpaste makers, are going into battle over patent rights relating to a blob of toothpaste.

The 'nurdle' of toothpaste, a tri-colored toothpaste blob used in product marketing, is claimed to be the reserve of GlaxoSmithKlline, but Colgate recently challenged the claim with a lawsuit, action that GlaxoSmith responded to with a counter lawsuit, filed in the same court on the same day.

Colgate Palmolive filed case no. 10-05728 at the US District Court, Southern District of New York last week in an attempt to get court backing to its claim that the packaging and marketing campaign for its Colgate toothpaste should not infringe trademarks that are already held by GlaxoSmithKline.

GlaxoSmithKline responded with lawsuit no. 10-05739, filed in the same law court, seeking to prove that Colgate's claims are without base and that the trademark rights for the nurdle are warranted.

Three colored 'nurdle' claim

The trademark dispute centers on the fact that Glaxo holds trademark rights for the tri-colored nurdle and the 'Triple Protection' phrase used to promote its global Aquafresh toothpaste brand.
Colgate's lawsuit complains that Glaxo's trademark rights to the nurdle are too vague, and limit fair competition.

In the 76-page lawsuit document, Colgate lawyers specify that Glaxo's nurdle trademark is regardless of colour, a factor that potentially restricts its ability to market new multifunctional toothpastes.

Colgate Triple Action claim

The document makes an example of Colgate's new 'Triple Action' toothpaste, which is currently marketed in the US with three stripes - blue, green and white - signifying the product's ability to protect agains cavities, freshen breath and whiten teeth.

Glaxo claims that the red, blue and white stripes that are used in the nurdle to promote its Aquafresh brand with the Triple Protection tag have been trademarked to help promote the brand's unique position in the market.

Its lawsuit claims that Colgate's use of the nurdle to market its toothpaste is potentially confusing to Glaxo consumers, who have traditionally associated a stripey toothpaste nurdle with its brand.

Glaxo's lawsuit asks that Colgate desists from marketing its toothpaste brand by using the nurdle, while Colgate has asked that the court cancels Glaxo's trademark for the nurdle and Triple Protection on the basis that it leads to unfair market competition.

Related topics: Business & Financial

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