Los Angeles – The inspirational book publisher Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing LLC’s planned new line of actual soup products will violate Campbell Soup Co.’s longstanding trademark and trade dress for its iconic soup can design, Campbell said in a new action filed in New Jersey federal court on Wednesday.
The lawsuit is based on Chicken Soup for the Soul’s stated intentions to begin selling chicken noodle soup and related soups and simple meals in packaging featuring a label and brand design that are confusingly similar to the design Campbell has used for its soup and related products, some elements of which have been used for over 100 years, Campbell says.
Chicken Soup for the Soul has “ embarked on an unlawful campaign to lure consumers into purchasing their chicken noodle soup and related goods under the mistaken belief that such products come from, are sponsored by, or are associated or affiliated with, Campbell Soup,” the complaint says.
The publisher’s use of a strikingly similar script typeface and label layout lies “at the heart of defendants’ campaign of deception,” according to Campbell.
“Consumer confusion and dilution is not only likely, but inevitable,” the complaint says.
Campbell has built a large and profitable business as a result of the high quality of its soup products, with worldwide soup sales in excess of $1.5 billion per year, according to the company. It spends hundreds of millions of dollars per year advertising and promoting the brand, the company says.
The soup maker has used the famous “Campbell’s” trademark and related trade dresses since at least as early as 1898, and owns a number of federal trademark registrations for them, according to the complaint.
It recently came to Campbell’s attention that Chicken Soup for the Soul intends to offer a line of soup and other simple meal products through the same channels of trade Campbell employs, such as grocery stores, beginning in 2013.
“That defendants’ intent was to trade on the fame and goodwill of the Campbell’s mark and Campbell trade dress is evident from a simple visual review of the packaging,” the complaint says.
In addition to trademark and trade dress infringement and dilution, the complaint asserts claims for false designation of origin, deceptive acts and practices, and unfair competition.
Campbell is seeking an injunction barring the soup line from using the Campbell trademark design or anything confusingly similar, plus damages, costs and attorneys’ fees.