NEW YORK--()--The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey issued a ruling yesterday finding that Promotion In Motion’s SWISSKISS chocolate candy did not violate The Hershey Company’s trademark rights in its KISSES trademark. The Promotion In Motion Companies, Inc., the Allendale, New Jersey-based company which manufactures the popular WELCH’S FRUIT SNACKS products and numerous other popular confectionery and snack items, first sought to introduce SWISSKISS chocolates in 2004. However, Hershey claimed that the product infringed its rights in the KISSES trademark, and the parties have been litigating first in the United States Patent & Trademark Office and then in federal court since 2005.
“I have said all along that we intended to develop our own premium Swiss chocolate product that would stand in the marketplace on its own merits, and I am pleased that the Court agreed we are free to do just that”
After a five-day bench trial in November 2011, the Court issued a 59-page opinion in which it found that the SWISSKISS mark did not create a likelihood of confusion or dilution with Hershey’s KISSES trademark. The Court found that any similarities flowing from the shared use of the term “kiss” in both parties’ marks were overcome by numerous other distinguishing elements, including the different color scheme and Swiss theme for Promotion In Motion’s proposed product. The Court also noted that the term “kiss” has been used to describe small pieces of candy since prior even to Hershey’s launch of its KISSES product in 1907, and that Hershey has co-existed over the years in the marketplace with other candies incorporating the term “kiss.” The Court further rejected Hershey’s two market research surveys, and credited Promotion In Motion’s counter-survey showing that confusion was unlikely.
Michael G. Rosenberg, President and CEO of The Promotion In Motion Companies, indicated that the Court decision vindicated Promotion In Motion’s position throughout the case that it could create its own brand image and position that was completely different from anything associated with Hershey’s product. “I have said all along that we intended to develop our own premium Swiss chocolate product that would stand in the marketplace on its own merits, and I am pleased that the Court agreed we are free to do just that,” Mr. Rosenberg said. The Court found that there was no evidence at all to show that Mr. Rosenberg or his company had any intention of benefiting from Hershey’s goodwill in any way in developing their SWISSKISS product.