Creativity + Innovation = Goodwill
On May 8, 2012, NatureSweet filed a civil action against Mastronardi Produce alleging trademark infringement. Specifically, NatureSweet alleges that Mastronardi’s “Angel Sweet” mark and its winged tomato design mark infringes upon and otherwise trades upon NatureSweet’s “Nature Sweet Cherubs” brand tomatoes.
At its core, the complaint alleges that Mastronardi’s packaging causes confusion in the marketplace and allows Mastronardi to trade on NatureSweet’s goodwill, which is a result of NatureSweet’s brand recognition in the retail segment. In support of this claim, NatureSweet’s complaint discusses NatureSweet’s portfolio of patents and trademarks. As a matter of fact, NatureSweet reported to the Packer that its Cherubs brand generates about $300 million in annual sales. The Packer
As this case unfolds, the take away here is that branding in the produce industry is critical because it is such a fast paced and highly competitive industry. And, as NatureSweet intends to show, there are ways to distinguish produce in the marketplace that go beyond taste and quality. Boasting $300 million in sales from the Cherub brand alone, it is clear that a proper intellectual property portfolio is capable of generating significant revenues that are capable of protection.