With more than 12,000 locations around the globe, Dunkin' Donuts is one of the world's largest restaurant chains. The company recently expanded into California, opening up its first free-standing restaurants in the Bay Area and in Los Angeles. Now, the company is facing a trademark infringement claim. According to reporting from Reuters, the donut and coffee giant was recently sued by Heartland Consumer Products. Heartland makes Splenda, one of the country's most popular artificial sweeteners.
The business environment in the United States can be a ruthless place. Companies that sell similar goods and services to a particular market often spend millions of dollars competing with one another over customers and may even go as far as to engage in conduct that many people would find morally reprehensible if it occurred between individuals. Competition in business often benefits consumers by improving products and lowering prices, so, to some extent, it is encouraged. On the other hand, there are some types of business competition that are blatantly deceptive or amount to theft and, as such, are prohibited by state and federal law.
Per The Wall Street Journal, a trademark case that has been ongoing for the past 16 years has reached the Supreme Court. The basis of the case is built upon the fact that the names of the company, Sealtight and Sealtite, are phonetically similar, causing unfair competition. Sealtight alleges copyright infringement, stating that consumers are confused between the two brands and the products they sell. Is the company losing business due to this allegation? The Court is still deciding.