Friday, October 24, 2008, 6:18 AM

Hershey Goes On A Tear Over Image On Furniture Delivery Truck

On Tuesday, October 21, 2008 Hershey Co. filed an action in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan claiming that the image of a couch emerging from a candy bar wrapper infringes Hershey's intellectual property.

The spat began when Michigan's largest furniture retailer posted several images of delivery trucks on its website in an online voting forum asking for visitors to the site to select their favorite design. Hershey clearly disfavored the image of a dark leather couch partially wrapped in a candy bar wrapper. Voting ends Oct. 31, 2008. Art Van claims the chocolate bar truck has not yet hit the road.

Hershey's action, 2:08-cv-14463, alleges federal statutory trademark and trade dress infringement, false association and sponsorship, trademark dilution and tarnishment, unfair competition, and conversion. Hershey is seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. Art Van submitted opposition papers on Oct. 22 and Hershey submitted its reply on Oct. 23. In its opposition, Art Van claims the image is a parody. In addition, a visit to Art Van's website shows that Art Van changed the color of the wrapper from brown to red. The chocolate bar truck is apparently also getting the most votes in Art Van's online voting. The matter appears fully briefed so watch for an order from U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts on this matter soon.

Hershey's is represented by Francis R. Ortiz of Dickinson Wright PLLC (Detroit, MI) and Jonathan G. Polak, Amy L. Wright, and Trent J. Sandifur, of Taft Stettinus & Hollister LLP (Indianapolis, IN).

The matter was reported on by The Detroit News and Forbes among others.


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