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Colgate Files Suit Alleging Brand Violations

May 30, 2003|From Associated Press

Consumer products giant Colgate-Palmolive Co. has accused a California company of ripping off trademarked brands and packaging for its soap, detergent, deodorant and after-shave.

A lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan accuses Blue Cross Laboratories of Santa Clarita of building "a substantial component of its business" by imitating Colgate-Palmolive products.

It alleges, for example, that Blue Cross' Smoothsoap lifted distinctive packaging from Colgate-Palmolive's Softsoap line, including a bottle with sloping shoulders and pictures of fruit that match the scent of the soap.

The lawsuit also takes issue with Palm Soft, a line of Blue Cross dish detergents, claiming that its packaging and name are similar to Palmolive, which has been a Colgate brand since 1900.

A receptionist, who said she was speaking for Blue Cross, said Thursday that the company had no comment because it had not seen the suit.

The 32-page claim was filed Wednesday.

The suit does not specify damages. But it points out that New York-based Colgate-Palmolive makes hundreds of millions of dollars in sales each year on products it alleges have been ripped off.

Colgate-Palmolive also wants the court to force Blue Cross to destroy any wrappers, labels and advertising materials that violate the Colgate-Palmolive trademarks.

Among the other trademarks Colgate-Palmolive alleges have been violated:

* Its popular Speed Stick deodorant. Colgate-Palmolive claims Blue Cross' Rapid Stick brand is "likely to cause confusion among customers" because of its similar green cap and upward-slanting stripes on the container.

* Its Afta line of after-shave lotions. Colgate-Palmolive takes issue with Blue Cross' after-shaves, marketed under the name After.

Colgate-Palmolive shares rose 21 cents to $59.14 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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