Large companies must protect their brands because otherwise, there may be problems with proving their intellectual property. The reason why small organizations do not protect their products or business names is that often they do not expect that someone will copy them. However, if a small business failed to legally protect its product brand in the beginning, it still has the right to do it later on. The case of Pepperidge Farm Inc. and Trader Joe’s Company deals with a widespread situation when so-called off-brands make products that highly resemble the brand-name ones and sell them cheaper than the original. This paper aims to consider this case and answer some of the questions connected with its possible outcome and Pepperidge Farm’s chances for court victory.
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The parties of the case at hand are Pepperidge Farm – the plaintiff, and Trader Joe’s – the defendant. It should be mentioned that both companies promote and sell their products in Connecticut. Pepperidge Farm is a large and trustworthy organization that has been producing different kinds of pastry for many years under the brand name MILANO® (United States District Court, 2015). This brand enjoys widespread popularity in the US because of its high-quality products and appearance in pop culture. The plaintiff is upset because the defendant has copied a unique configuration of their product and a recognizable package (United States District Court, 2015). This may lead to a mistake, confusion, and deceive purchasers, causing damage to the plaintiff’s reputation and diminishing its value in the marketplace.
Moreover, the way cookies are portrayed on the defendant’s package does not correspond to reality, which is a violation of the law. The Milano® cookies are sold in fluted paper trays, which are placed inside a larger package (United States District Court, 2015). The defendant used this image to resemble the original brand and benefit from its reputation. This fact can serve as evidence of Trader Joe’s intention to exploit the company’s good reputation. Hence, it is understandable why Pepperidge Farm brought the case to court, demanding to prevent the defendant’s further use of the brand’s configuration. Furthermore, the plaintiff hopes to receive money for the inflicted damage and recovery of its attorney’s fees.
Taking into account all the circumstances of the case, I can guess that Pepperidge Farm won the court case as it had the legal right to sue Trader Joe’s for deliberately copying its configuration. The fact that the defendant intentionally and willfully traded on the plaintiff’s reputation not only increases Pepperidge Farm’s chances for obtaining compensation but also ensures an award of its reasonable attorney’s fees (United States District Court, 2015). I believe that the plaintiff achieved its main purpose, and Trader Joe’s stopped trademark infringement.
All in all, it is of paramount importance to protect an organization’s intellectual property to prevent generic companies from copying your product, brand, or ideas. If a company did not do it when it was small and unpopular, it should not hesitate to do it later on. The reviewed case shows how some companies can intentionally trade on a good reputation of larger or more successful ones. This may cause financial damages to the original manufacture and put its valued reputation at risk.
United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. (2015). Gitson v. Trader Joe’s Co [PDF document].