Candyland, Inc., which operates stores in Minneapolis – St. Paul, has filed trademark infringement suits against three sellers and/or distributors of popcorn that allegedly use the term “Chicago Mix,” including Chicago-area favorite Garrett Popcorn. In 1992, Candyland obtained a federal trademark registration for CHICAGO MIX in connection with “flavored popped popcorn.” For Candyland, the “Chicago Mix” refers to the ” combination of traditional seasoned popcorn mixed with caramel and cheddar flavored popcorn.”
On August 7 and 8, 2014, Candyland filed three separate suits in the Northern District of Illinois against CandyCrisp LLC (which does business as Garrett Popcorn Shops), Snyder’s-Lance, Inc. (which distributes a line of popcorn under the O-KE-DOKE mark), and Cornfields (which distributes a line of popcorn under the G.H. CREDTORS mark). All three defendants are accused of distributing and/or selling popcorn using the term “Chicago Mix” and thus infringing Candyland’s trademark rights.
With respect to Garrett, the Chicago Tribune reports that “[t]his isn’t the first time Candyland has tussled with … Garrett Popcorn Shops.”
In 2008, while in Chicago for a trade show, [Candyland co-owner Brenda Lamb] noticed that Garrett was using the name and promptly sent the company a friendly letter asking them to remove it. It complied, according to Lamb, but a while later, the Lambs noticed that the Chicago Mix name had returned to use.
“We’ve been back and forth with Garrett’s for years,” Lamb said. “We’re trying to be friendly colleagues of the business, and I think we were successful at being that way. It wasn’t that we were spitting venom at each other.”
The Tribune further reports that Candyland and Garrett are engaged in settlement discussions and that Garrett is already transitioning from “Chicago Mix” to “Garrett Mix”, a change that Garrett states was initiated prior to the lawsuit.