DuPont Co., the second-largest U.S. chemical maker, accused home furnishings chain Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. of selling oven mitts that violate DuPont's trademarks on fibers used in the protective gloves.
In a trademark infringement lawsuit, DuPont claims that Bed Bath & Beyond, the largest U.S. home furnishings retailer, and John Ritzenthaler Co., which makes the mitts, used DuPont's Kevlar and Nomex names without permission. DuPont developed Kevlar, used in bullet-resistant vests, in 1965 and Nomex, used in firefighting equipment, in 1967.
Use of the trademarked names on the mitts "is likely to cause confusion in that consumers will mistakenly believe the product is approved or licensed by DuPont," lawyers for the chemical company said in the suit filed Wednesday in federal court in Wilmington, Del.
The suit comes as DuPont Chief Executive Charles O. Holliday Jr. pushes forward with plans to emphasize the company's faster-growing businesses. DuPont sold its nylon business and fired 3,000 workers this year as part of that effort, and Holliday has said he is seeking to generate a third of 2005 sales from products introduced in the last five years.
Bari Fagin, a spokeswoman for Union, N.J.-based Bed Bath & Beyond, declined to comment on the suit. Howard Steidle, who is listed by Dun & Bradstreet as the owner of West Conshohocken, Pa.-based Ritzenthaler, also declined to comment.
DuPont executives contend that Ritzenthaler's Super Glove line of oven mitts, which are sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, says on its packaging that Nomex and Kevlar fibers are used in the mitts. Though the company bought the fibers from a DuPont affiliate, it didn't have permission to use the trademarks, DuPont said.
Shares of Wilmington-based DuPont rose 1 cent to $49.01 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond rose 6 cents to $39.35 on Nasdaq.