Tootsie Roll company sues shoe firm for trademark infringement (1 of 2)

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

Earlier this week, we talked about a trademark lawsuit between “The Situation” and Abercrombie & Fitch. In that case, one side had believed that the other was improperly benefitting from their trademark, while the other believed that the value of its brand was being diminished. A similar dynamic is now at play in a dispute between a shoe manufacturer and a candy company.

A small shoe manufacturer known as Rollashoe has been sued for trademark infringement in federal court by the well-known Tootsie Roll Industries candy company. The cause of Tootsie Roll’s ire is Rollashoe’s Footzyrolls line of shoes, footwear that is capable of being rolled up into small bundles for storage and travel.

The Tootsie Roll trademark has been in use for chewy confection candy and lollypops, including lollypops with a tootsie roll center, for over a hundred years, commencing in 1908. The candy giant believes that the shoe company intended to capitalize on the Tootsie Roll trademark.

It asserts that the name Footzyrolls is so similar to its trademark in name and appearance that consumers are likely to be deceived or confused into believing that the two products are somehow related.

Rollashoe asserted that Tootsie Roll’s claims were without merit. It claims that there was no existing evidence that consumers were actually likely to be confused into thinking that there was a connection between the two companies’ products.

In the second part of this series we will discuss the value of trademarks and their value to a business. We will also look at how this sort of dispute can be viewed from the points of view of both an established brand like Tootsie Roll and a start up company like Footzyrolls.

Source: Thomson Reuters News and Insight “‘Tootsie v. Footzy: Candymaker goes after footwear brand,” Nov. 21, 2011