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Electronic cigarettes are getting some serious attention, and not just from smokers.
The holders of trademarks for iconic brands like Tootsie Rolls and Girl Scout cookies are pressuring the makers of e-cig liquid to stop using their names on flavored nicotine labels.
Why aren't these candy and cookie makers sweet on the smoking-hot e-cig market?
According to The Associated Press, General Mills Inc., Girl Scouts of the USA, and Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. are among the brands that have started firing off cease-and-desist letters to makers of the flavored nicotine liquids used in e-cigs. These nicotine liquids are often marketed using recognizable brand names like "Capt. Crunch" to convey their purported flavors.
Unlike normal cigarettes, which are banned by the FDA from using flavors that may attract children, electronic cigarettes are still free to market a litany of fruit, candy and other sweet-tasting varieties. This makes the alleged trademark infringement by e-cig companies all the more rankling for brands that are typically associated with or appeal to young people. "Using the Thin Mint name -- which is synonymous with Girl Scouts and everything we do to enrich the lives of girls -- to market e-cigarettes to youth is deceitful and shameless," Girl Scouts spokeswoman Kelly Parisi said in a statement reported by the AP.
Enforcing Your Trademark Rights
Generally the first step in protecting your trademark from infringers is sending a cease-and-desist letter demanding the infringer stop its unauthorized use of the trademark. If that fails to curb the infringement, the next step is usually a lawsuit in federal court, where holder of the trademark can get a court to order the trademark infringer to cease its activity as well as award damages to the trademark holder.
Though regulation of e-cigs is still developing, with $2 billion in sales last year the e-cig market can no longer sneak under anyone's radar. Not even the Girl Scouts.
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