Hershey settles infringement lawsuits with two edible pot companies

DENVER (Reuters) - Hershey Co has settled trademark infringement lawsuits against marijuana companies in Colorado and Washington state that the candy maker said sold products in packaging that resembled its wrappers, according to court documents obtained on Friday.

Hershey's candy bars are displayed at a gas station in Phoenix, Arizona October 27, 2011. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

In June, Hershey sued Colorado-based TinctureBelle LLC and Seattle’s Conscious Care Cooperative in federal court, claiming the businesses were selling edible marijuana products that parodied brand names of the confection manufacturer.

TinctureBelle sold products named Hasheath and Dabby Patty that Hershey said were rip-offs of its Heath bar and York peppermint patty candies.

Similarly, Conscious Care sold Reefer’s peanut butter cups and Mr. Dankbar, takeoffs of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Mr. Goodbar brands, the lawsuit said.

Pennsylvania-based Hershey settled with TinctureBelle last month and with Conscious Care in August, according to federal court documents.

In both cases, the cannabis companies agreed to halt further sales of their brands and destroy any remaining inventory and packaging.

Conscious Care said in a settlement document that it was merely a reseller of the products, and TinctureBelle said in its agreement that it halted selling the confections months before the lawsuit was filed.

The settlement with TinctureBelle also prevents the company from making any “false or disparaging statements” about Hershey and to remove a website that sought to raise funds to defend itself against the lawsuit.

Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman said in an email that the company was pleased that both pot companies “have acknowledged their unauthorized use of our iconic trademarks.”

“This resolution sends a powerful message to other companies that we are diligent about protecting our valuable brand names and will take action when necessary to protect them,” Beckman said.

Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana under ballot measures approved in 2012.

Voters in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia will decide whether to legalize marijuana for non-medical purposes next month.

Colorado lawmakers have charged a task force with crafting new rules to require cannabis edibles to be clearly marked and packaged after hospitals reported an uptick in the number of children treated for ingesting pot-laced candies.

Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Victoria Cavaliere and Eric Beech