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Norwalk's Pepperidge Farm Sues Trader Joe's Over Cookies

Pepperidge Farm / Trader Joe's
Pepperidge Farms' Milano cookies, and Trader Joe's Crispy Cookies.
"If you're at a catered lunch and these two cookies were sitting on a tray side by side, would consumers be confused?"
Stephen McNamara

Norwalk, Connecticut-based commercial bakery Pepperidge Farm, one of the most popular snack brands in the U.S., is being a "tough cookie" and taking the grocery chain Trader Joe's to court over a cookie that looks too much like their Milano brand. Pepperidge Farm has filed suit against the grocery chain for trademark infringement.

The lawsuit, filed December 2 in New Haven’s federal court, contends that Trader Joe's is confusing customers with its Crispy Cookies that resemble Milano's signature oval shape.

The company seeks to block future sales of the item and asks for undisclosed damages.

Pepperidge Farm, a subsidiary of Campbell's Soup, first rolled out the Milano cookie in 1956 and trademarked its formula in 2010.

A spokesperson for Monrovia, California-based Trader Joe's declined to comment on pending litigation.

Stephen McNamara is an attorney with St. Onge Steward Johnston & Reens LLC of Stamford. He specializes in trademarks.

"It's about reasonable confusion," McNamara said. "If you're at a catered lunch and these two cookies were sitting on a tray side by side, would consumers be confused? It's a tough argument."

He recalled a similar case involving trademark infringement.

In 2014, Kind Snacks, maker of Kind Bars, sued Clif Bar for infringing its packaging trademarks. Clif Bar had begun offering its Mojo Snack Bars in clear packaging, something Kind Snacks had been doing all along. But a judge disagreed and both companies reached a settlement that centered on a modified package design.

Leyda Quast is an intern at WNPR. This report includes information from The Associated Press.

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