Hershey's suit with Mars underscores color's importance

Color is still No. 1 on consumers’ visual hierarchy of packaging, and the litigation over orange’s use on Dove packs will be a good test case to watch.

Yes, there's a throwdown in packaging land, between Mars and Hershey, over the color orange. This is from Bloomberg:

Mars used an orange background for its Dove confection that was already trademarked for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Reese’s Pieces, Hershey said in a lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court in Pennsylvania.

The use of the color is an attempt to “trade on Hershey’s goodwill and to confuse consumers as to the origin, source or sponsorship of defendant’s product,” the Hershey, Pennsylvania-based company said in its complaint.

Mars filed its own complaint yesterday against Hershey in Virginia federal court, claiming, “orange is commonly used by third parties on packaging as a generic flavor designation for peanuts, peanut butter or peanut butter flavoring.”

This is both amusing and serious. In the hyper-competitive candy business, packaging matters, big time. And a big part of packaging is color. One wonders if Hershey will prevail in its legal efforts to claim orange. But given how ingrained the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is in consumer culture, you can see why Hershey thinks this is a battle worth fighting.

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