DAYTON, Ohio (FNS) - Procter & Gamble Co. filed a lawsuit against distributor McLane Co., Temple, Texas, in federal court here earlier this month for selling products that it said looked too similar to its own package designs.
P&G alleged McLane infringed on the package design of four of its products: NyQuil Liquicaps, DayQuil Liquicaps, Bounty paper towels and Charmin toilet paper. The suit made seven claims including: trade dress infringement and counterfeiting, false designation of origin, and trademark dilution. The suit also names McLane's Salado Sales, and Consumer Value Products, a private-label line Salado makes for McLane.
Often, private label emulates brands, said Neil Stern, senior partner, McMillan/Doolittle, Chicago. "If [P&G] were to prevail, private-label design would probably have to take a step back from being as mimic-oriented as it's been," Stern said.
"We are going to take legal action whenever necessary to protect our business and our intellectual property," said Doug Shelton, spokesman, P&G, Cincinnati.
McLane did not respond to calls for comment.
It remains to be seen what the impact of the lawsuit will be on the larger private-label industry, Stern said. "I don't see a huge impact. " Private label has become so important, he said, that national brands will take a tougher stance on trade dress and trademarks. "In a sense, it legitimizes private brands."