BLU vs. blu

Zippo wins infringement case over lighter, e-cigarette trademarks

Zippo blu Lorillard (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Tobacco)

BRADFORD, Pa. -- Zippo Manufacturing Co. (ZMC), maker of the Zippo lighter, has announced that it has been granted a preliminary injunction in Germany against Cygnet UK Trading Ltd., a Lorillard subsidiary, preventing Cygnet from using the "blu" brand name for electronic cigarettes sold in that country.

The Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main agreed with ZMC that the blu e-cigarette brand creates a likelihood of confusion with the company's European Union Community trademark BLU, used in connection with its line of butane lighters and fuel. The court found the confusion was due to the high degree of similarity between the marks, an existing similarity between the parties' respective goods and the ZMC BLU mark's "at least" average degree of distinctiveness.

ZMC's action in Germany and the resulting preliminary injunction against Cygnet is part of ZMC's ongoing, global effort to protect its worldwide portfolio of BLU trademarks. ZMC has commenced proceedings to oppose applications to register or to cancel trademark registrations, for the blu e-cigarette brand in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Sweden has already rejected outright Lorillard's application to register a trademark for blu.

In May 2014, ZMC sued LOEC Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Lorillard, for trademark infringement in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. The company's lawsuit seeks to prevent LOEC from selling its blu e-cigarettes in light of Zippo's earlier ownership and use of its BLU trademark.

A trial is scheduled for April 2015.

"I am very pleased that the German Court affirmed our legal rights to our intellectual property," said Zippo President and CEO Gregory Booth. "Zippo Manufacturing Co. has invested in innovative technology and trademarked its BLU brands from the beginning, and we are working to vigorously protect all of our marks--worldwide--from any misuse by others."

The blu e-cigarette business is being sold to Imperial Tobacco Group as a result of Lorillard's merger with Reynolds American.

ZMC created and patented a new high-precision butane lighter, BLU, in 2005.

George G. Blaisdell founded ZMC in 1932 in Bradford, Pa.; it has manufactured more than 500 million Zippo windproof lighters. Its product lines also include lighter accessories; butane candle lighters; fragrance and lifestyle accessories for men; and a line of heat and flame products for outdoor enthusiasts. Zippo markets in over 160 countries. It also owns the Ronson brand of lighters and fuel, as well as W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co.