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The Pez Museum Lawsuit: A Not-So-Sweet Move?

By Joel Zand | Last updated on

Can you say P.R. nightmare?  The owners of PEZ might be doing just that after filing a trademark infringement lawsuit against the Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia.

The brouhaha that Swiss-based Patrafico AG and U.S.-based PEZ Candy, Inc. created after attacking this venerable California shrine to its candy dispenser fanatics might actually be working against the company's brand-building efforts.

Here's why.

The museum is the brainchild of Nancy Doss and Gary Doss, a Bay Area couple who created the museum in 1995 and operated it over the last 14 years.

PEZ admits that it used to sell candy to the museum, but is unclear when it stopped doing so:

PEZ, Inc. formerly sold candy to Burlingame for resale at retail but ceased doing so when Defendants, despite due and fair warning, persisted in continuing the wrongful conduct set forth in this complaint.

The candymaker, however, is apparently miffed that the museum created what it claims is the "The World's Largest Dispenser of PEZ," and recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.

The lawsuit claims that the museum's dispenser "is a direct copy of the PEZ was not created by or under the authority of Plaintiffs"

What kind of legal relief does PEZ seek?  Clearly, the candymaker appears to want to put the museum out of business.  It seeks a restraining our that would prohibit the Museum from "marketing and selling products" with the PEZ trademarks, using any PEZ trademarks in connection with its museum, and using domain names associated with their PEZ museum.

The real kicker are the damages that PEZ seeks: they want the defendants "to account...for all profits realized" from the museum's use of the PEZ trademarks.  A call to Larry Johnson, PEZ's Palo Alto trademark lawyer was not returned as of this posting.

Some PEZ fanatics have reacted with disgust and repulsion at the candymaker's trademark lawsuit.  Here are some recent web posts by readers of a San Jose Mercury News article on the litigation:

Shame on you, Pez! In protest, I refuse to buy one of your products ever again.  You should be glad to have the positive product recognition but instead opt to be petty corporate jerks.

re: giant pez.  I have been a loyal fan of PEZ virtually all of my life.  I am ashamed that they would do this.  I think they should be boycotted...they are being ridiculous

You be the judge.

Read the PEZ trademark lawsuit against the Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia here: FindLaw | Trademark Lawsuit Over Pez

Photo credit: Turner Broadcasting

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