Smelly infringement

little treesTo keep you fresh on trademarks, this week a fresh new IP battle about… air fresheners.

Everyone probably knows the car air fresheners shaped like a pine tree, hanging form your rear view mirror.

It is called Little Trees. The company’s logo is a mighty pine. The general public – so say the court documents – associate the product “with the concepts of freshness, cleanliness and pleasing scents.”

And then there is Ohio (USA) based Exotica Fresheners Company of Holland. It makes a competing products hanging from considerably fewer rearview mirrors. Exotica’s symbol is – coincidentally – a palm tree, with a broad trunk and filled with coconuts.

Little Trees are sold in a cellophane package, topped with a yellow card emblazoned with a green tree logo and the product name written in an upward-slanting direction. You can buy it, amongst others, in fragrances like “Morning Fresh” and “New Car”; each fragrance has a differently coloured tree.

Exotica also sells its tree-shaped fresheners in a cellophane package topped with a yellow card emblazoned with a green tree logo and the product name written in an upward-slanting direction. Its fragrance varieties also include “Morning Fresh” and “New Car”, with identically coloured trees.

And this is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception, says Car-Freshner, maker of Little Trees.

We understand Car-Freshner’s complaints. There is something smelly about this case. And it does not smell like “Morning Fresh” or ” New Car”.

Little Trees - Exotica

Erwin Hauër

“Hope is not a strategy.”

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