CINCINNATI – Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) on Thursday sued a Texas-based company selling products that P&G says look remarkably similar to some of its leading brands.
The Cincinnati-based consumer products company says the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Dayton asks for a preliminary order to stop McLane Co. , a subsidiary and a vendor from selling four products they say illegally copy P&G packaging. The suit also demands the defendants tell retailers to impound or return the products, and asks for unspecified damages.
McLane spokeswoman Rachel Hughes said the company had not yet seen the lawsuit and had no comment.
McLane, based in Temple, Texas, is one of the nation's biggest food distribution and logistics companies, providing food, drinks, utensils and other products to convenience stores, retailers, fast-food chains and movie theaters around the world. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. bought McLane from Wal-Mart (WMT) in 2003.
P&G alleges that paper towels called "Towels" copy its Bounty packaging, toilet paper called Soft N Plush copies Charmin, and over-the-counter cold medicines called DayTime and NightTime Liquid Caps mimic Vicks' NyQuil and DayQuil LiquiCaps brands. The products usually are lower priced than P&G's — the NightTime medicine was selling for $2.79, $2 less than NyQuil, in a Cincinnati convenience store Thursday.
The lawsuit says P&G has spent "enormous sums of money" marketing its products, and that the defendants are confusing consumers so they can cash in on the P&G products' "substantial reputation and goodwill."
P&G has filed a variety of such infringement suits against other companies over the years.
"When we spot it, and when we recognize that consumers are confused by a lookalike product, we aggressively protect our trademarks and copyrights," P&G spokesman Doug Shelton said.