National Fruit Product Co. Sued for Trademark, Copyright Infringement of Apple Cider Vinegar Labels

On Wednesday, Bragg Live Food Products, LLC filed a lawsuit in the Central District of California against National Fruit Product Company, Inc. alleging violations of its copyright and trademark rights. 

According to the complaint, Bragg is a Delaware limited liability company that has developed a reputation as an industry leader in organic foods, specifically apple cider vinegar. The complaint further states Bragg has used distinctive and novel features, inspired by event promotions popular in the early 1900s, on its trade dress to distinguish Bragg’s products from others in the market.  Specifically, the plaintiff argues that consumers have come to readily identify Bragg products by the bright yellow color scheme and red bordering of their trade dress. 

Bragg states its product’s core elements of yellow, red and white and the arrangement of those elements on the package has remained the same for years. Further, the complaint states Bragg’s name, other logos and trade dress have been registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office dating back as far as 2008. 

In addition to Bragg’s trademark protection on its label, Bragg states it has received copyright protection for its label and packaging include packaging configuration, artistic graphical choices, unique color blocking, cleverly placed and uniquely shaped banners, original photorealistic illustrations, and intentionally and creatively arranged and sized frames, shapes, borders, font, color, designs, stylization, display and impression that are original and create a unified original and creative work. 

The complaint purports that National Fruit Product Company, Inc. is a Virginia corporation that sells apple cider vinegar under the brand name White House. The plaintiffs allege that White House is a relative newcomer to the apple cider vinegar industry and first started selling apple cider vinegar in 2016 using a predominantly green label. However, the complaint states in or around 2019, White House began selling its apple cider vinegar with a predominantly yellow label with red bordering that uses many of the same elements of Bragg’s trade dress for its apple cider vinegar. 

In the complaint, Bragg argues that White House’s new labeling and advertising demonstrates undisputed trade dress, trademark and copyright infringement. Bragg argues that the s​​imilarity between the essential features of both party’s trade dress designs is obvious and likely to cause consumer confusion and irreparable harm to its business. Additionally, Bragg argues that White House has violated its copyright by intentionally and knowingly reproducing, counterfeiting, copying, displaying, altering and manufacturing Bragg’s protected work without its permission. 

The complaint states Bragg has sent numerous letters to White House demanding they cease and desist developing and promoting similar product labels and advertising without any success. Bragg requests injunctive relief, the destruction of all unauthorized products and advertisements in the defendant’s possession, statutory damages up to $2 million for each trademark or trade dress the defendant willfully counterfeited and infringed, punitive damages, treble damages, attorneys fees and costs for the defendant’s violation of the Lanham Act, federal copyright law and California’s Unfair business Practices Law.  The plaintiff is represented by SoCal IP Law Group, LLP