When two giant companies fight over who owns a cookie in court, it isn't a treat for either of them. Indeed, Pepperidge Farm recently hit Trader Joes with a lawsuit, accusing the grocery store of copying its Milano cookie -- an act that constitutes trademark infringement according to Pepperidge Farm.
In the complaint, which was filed last Wednesday, Pepperidge Farm says that Trader Joe's committed trademark infringement because its "Trader Joe's Crispy Cookies" look just like the Pepperidge Farm "Milano" cookie. Pepperidge Farm says that this is confusing shoppers and damaging the sanctity of its brand.
The Milano cookie has been around since 1956. It has a chocolate filling pressed between two outer oval-shaped cookies. Pepperidge Farm has owned a registered trademark for the Milano cookie since 2010. According to the lawsuit, Trader Joe's has unlawfully copied the design by mimicking the cookie's oval shape in addition to copying its package design. The Trader Joe's cookie is actually rectangular with rounded edges, not oval, but Pepperidge Farm believes it is too similar to its cookie.
Pepperidge Farm said in its complaint, "The acts of Trader Joe's have been malicious and calculated to injure Pepperidge Farm."
Pepperidge Farm is asking the court to stop Trader Joe's from selling the cookie and award it compensatory and punitive damages. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in New Haven, Connecticut.
How Will This Cookie Case End?
Considering that the Pepperidge Farm Milano cookie has earned the baking wing of Campbell Soup Co. hundreds of millions of dollars over the last 10 years, it is understandable that the company would want to try and protect its interests. However, it is not clear who is on the right side of the law in this case. The court will have to decide whether the Trader Joe's cookie is dissimilar enough not to constitute a violation of Pepperidge Farm's Milano trademark. In the meantime, only one thing is certain. No matter who wins the suit, the winner can tell the loser, "That's just how the cookie crumbles!"
Have you tried the Trader Joe's alternative to the Milano? Does it taste as good or better than the original? Let us know in the comments below.
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