Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lack of Polaroid Factors Sends Spirutein Down For the Count

Natural Organics, Inc. v. Neutraceutical Corp., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46057 (D. N.Y. July 7, 2006).

Natural Organics sued Neutraceutical, alleging that the defendant's Soytein drink mix improperly infringed on the trade dress of the plaintiff's Spiru-tein soy drink mix.

After a loss at the trial, Natural Organics' appeal resulted in a remand to apply the specific test set out in Polaroid Corp. v. Polarad Elecs. Corp., 287 F.2d 492, 495 (2d Cir. 1961), to wit: 1) strength of plaintiff's trade dress, 2) similarity of the trade dresses, 3) proximity of hte products in the marketplace, 4) likelihood that the plaintiff will bridge the gap between the products, i.e., enter a market related to that in which the defendant sells its product, 5) evidence of actual confusion, 6) defendant's bad faith, 7) quality of the defendant's product and 8) sophistication of the relevant consumer group.

Applying the factors, the court again dismissed the plaintiff's action with prejudice.

This case points out the difficulties that producers of food products face in a highly competitive market where the products are in competition for the same customer base.


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