On Thursday, July 13th, Chicago-based chewing gum company Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company filed a trademark infringement suit against e-cigarette seller Chi-Town Vapers LLC of Bensenville, IL. The suit targets Chi-Town for marketing certain e-cigarette materials which bear a striking resemblance to chewing gum products manufactured by Wrigley. The case is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (N.D. Ill.).
“There is a growing concern, shared by the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration], the Senate and others, that the marketing of e-cigarette materials in chocolate, fruit and/or candy flavors harmfully targets children under 18 years of age,” Wrigley’s trademark suit against Chi-Town Vapers reads. Wrigley alleges that Chi-Town has refused to stop misappropriating Wrigley’s federally registered trademarks in developing liquid materials for e-cigarette products. The suit identifies a Robert Wilson who is the owner of Chi-Town Vapers and Chi-Town Labs, and Wrigley alleges that Wilson directed and controlled the activities which are at the center of Wrigley’s complaint.
Wrigley’s asserts that it has extensive common law and federal trademark protections for its chewing gum brands. For example, Wrigley notes that its sales of “Doublemint” and “Juicy Fruit” branded chewing gums goes back more than 100 years. Besides the extensive common law protections afforded by Wrigley’s century-long use of those brands in commerce, the chewing gum company has also obtained federal trademark protections for those brands. Aspects of the Doublemint brand, for example, are protected by U.S. Trademark Registration No. 582862, issued in 1953, as well as U.S. Trademark Registration No. 2778540. The Juicy Fruit brand has been protected by U.S. Trademark Registration No. 105032, registered back in 1915, and U.S. Trademark Registration No. 2836550.
Wrigley alleges that Chi-Town sells e-cigarette liquid, both online and at the firm’s Bensenville location, which make use of the “Doublemint” and “Juicy Fruit” trademarks. As well, Wrigley notes that Chi-Town is making and selling liquid e-cigarette products which misappropriate trademarks from a variety of popular candy and food brands including Nutella, Kahlua, Hawaiian Punch and Skittles.
According to the filed complaint, Wrigley is seeking a jury trial for this trademark infringement case. The lawsuit includes five claims for relief including claims for federal trademark infringement, federal trademark dilution, federal unfair competition, deceptive trade practices under Illinois state law, and common law unfair competition. Wrigley is seeking judgment that these violations were willful and intentional, a permanent injunction and a court order to recall all products infringing the Doublemint and Juicy Fruit marks which will then be delivered to Wrigley for destruction. Wrigley is also seeking payment from Chi-Town based on all monetary actual and/or statutory damages, all profits, exemplary damages and to cover Wrigley’s court costs in the case.