Hormel doesn't want people to confuse its Black Label bacon with a dog treat that looks like bacon.
The Austin, Minnesota-based company filed a federal lawsuit last week, accusing Purina of trademark infringement and deceptive trade practices for using "Black Label" for its new line of "real meat," bacon-shaped Beggin' Strips dog treats, according to a copy of the lawsuit uploaded by The Consumerist.
Hormel says it has used Black Label since 1963, noting people identify the term with "quality bacon products." The lawsuit alleges that Purina's use of Black Label to market its "real meat" dog treats since January could confuse people about who makes the dog treats and "falsely suggest" Purina is affiliated with Hormel and its Black Label products.
Hormel's lawsuit also argues that the way the Black Label dog treats are advertised is similar to Hormel Black Label bacon commercials.
"Because our brands and trademarks represent a standard of quality and value to our consumers, customers, and shareholders, willful unauthorized use of our Black Label mark is taken very seriously, and we will protect our brand vigorously," Hormel said in a statement to GoMN.
The lawsuit alleges Hormel "has suffered, and will continue to suffer, monetary damages," with the lawsuit asking that Purina pay back those damages, among other fees, and stop using the Black Label mark.
Purina commented on the lawsuit in a statement to GoMN, saying:
"We respect intellectual property rights, including trademarks, which are meant to protect against consumer confusion. We are confident that consumers are not confused between Hormel’s bacon and Purina’s Beggin’ dog treats. Black label is a term widely used across industries – for products like alcohol, food, clothing and cars – to designate premium quality."