Category Archives: Private Label

CRÈME BRULEE ALMONDS® – Squirrel Brand v. Walgreens

On March 2nd, Squirrel Brand Holdings, L.P. filed a suit for trademark infringement in the Eastern District of Texas accusing Walgreens of selling, under its private label NICE! brand, “Creme Brûlée Almonds” that infringe on Squirrel Brand’s federally-registered trademark for that term.

According to Squirrel Brand’s website, “creme brûlée almonds” are “bite-sized substitutes for the famous dessert … made by toasting the finest California almonds and adding a luscious sweet creme flavor” and then “[f]inished with a thin layer of caramelized sugar.”  Squirrel Brand’s mark will no doubt be attacked as being descriptive even though it was registered on the principal register (as of 2/21/2012) pursuant to section 2(f) as having acquired distinctiveness by having been in exclusive and continuous use for more than five years.  This will be an interesting example of whether a clearly descriptive trademark that has only just been registered under section 2(f) can withstand heightened scrutiny in federal court.

Safeguarding the Secret Sauce

Highlighted in the Articles section of this blog is a white paper I wrote titled Safeguarding the Secret Sauce: Protecting Brand Equity & Innovation in the Food Industry.   It is a high-level summary of intellectual property issues important to the food industry.   My favorite point from the article is the following observation by Don Mulligan, the CFO of General Mills:   The gross margin of a product “indicates how much more than the actual costs of the product itself the consumer is willing to spend” and thus measures “the intangible value of a product and of a brand.”  

On a somewhat related note, this post from Broad Street Licensing Group’s blog is quite enlightening regarding the ongoing battle between private label and national brands.