Hershey takes pot candy firm to ‘high’ court

TinctureBelle produces cannabis-laced edible products such as Hashees Peanut Butter Cups

Hershey has accused Colorado-based firm TinctureBelle of passing off cannabis-infused candies such as Hashees Peanut Butter Cups as Hershey products.

Hershey has launched a lawsuit – actually in the district court of Colorado – accusing TinctureBelle of infringing trademarks on its brands Reese’s, Heath, Almond Joy and York.

TinctureBelle’s products include Ganja Joy, HashHeath and Hashees.

‘Consumer confusion’

Hershey has called on the court to destroy products that allegedly infringe its trademarks and is seeking damages and an injunction to prevent TinctureBelle from selling the products.

It said in its complaint: “…Defendants’ sale of the Infringing Products inevitably will cause confusion among consumers as to the origin, source or sponsorship of the products offered by defendants, and cause many potential purchasers to mistakenly believe that such products are the same as those offered by Hershey, or that they are in some way authorized or licensed by the source of the products sold under the Hershey Trademarks.”

In November 2012, Colorado Amendment 64, a state statute, made recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and over legal.

Hershey: Trademark dilution, nothing more

Jeff Beckman, director of corporate communications at Hershey, told ConfectioneryNews: "This case is no different from the many other types of trademark infringement we regularly pursue.  The issues at the center of these cases are trademark infringement and dilution."

He continued: "These entities have used Hershey’s trademarks, without authorization, to trade on Hershey’s goodwill and reputation and to draw greater attention to their products; these unauthorized uses of Hershey’s trademarks also make the products more appealing to children."  

TinctureBelle update

TinctureBelle  is a privately held company setup in Colorado Springs in 2010. It employs under 10 people and has annual revenues of around $230,000. The company’s website was taken down and were originally unable to retrieve contact details.

TinctureBelle notified us of response to Hershey on 11 June.

“The lawsuit from Hershey came as a huge surprise to us,” said TinctureBelle president, Char Mayes, “because we changed our entire label line approximately 6 months ago, long before these allegations surfaced last week.  Our new packaging looks nothing like Hershey’s or anyone else’s.”

He said that he first heard about the lawsuit when called by a reporter last Thursday.

Maynes criticised media reports that claimed TinctureBelle’s candy products attracted children to drugs.

“The suggestion made by some media reports that our products are available to children, and even sold side-by-side with Hershey products, is dumbfounding, and shows a profound lack of awareness of how infused cannabis products are regulated, manufactured, and sold under Colorado’s strict regulatory regime.”

He said that he hoped to resolve the dispute with Hershey as quickly as possible.

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