July 15, 2009 5:09 PM
Dispense This: Alston, Fenwick Fight Over Pez Museum
Posted by Brian Baxter
Pez, the tiny, rectangular candies made popular by their pocket-sized mechanical dispensers, is fed up with the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia.
In an 18-page complaint filed in U.S. district court in San Jose on June 22, Pez Candy, the U.S. subsidiary of Switzerland-based Patrafico AG, filed a trademark infringement suit against the unofficial Pez museum and its candied curators.
According to San Jose Mercury News, which had some fun discovering the candy case in this Tuesday story, Pez accuses the museum of infringing on its trademark by displaying a 7-foot-10 snowman (pictured right) it proclaims the "world's largest Pez."
Pez also alleges the museum sold a modified dispenser bearing President Barack Obama's image with the message, "OBAMA '08 for Pezident," despite the fact that the company and its parent, Patrafico, never engage in political endorsements.
The museum's lawyer, Fenwick & West IP and technology litigation cochair Rodger Cole in Mountain View, Calif., says Pez is targeting a small "off the beaten path" destination for tourists. The museum opened in 1995 and contains every one of the 550 Pez dispensers made by the candy company, including the Mr. Potato Head Pez, which actually sold for $8,000 apiece back in 2004.
"From our perspective, the museum enhances the brand image of Pez, embraces the Pez fan community, and promotes Pez," says Cole, who is defending the museum along with IP litigation partner Jennifer Kelly. "Frankly, I'm surprised that Pez wouldn't want to embrace and support the museum to try and use it to increase its marketing."
Pez is asking for the museum's profits and seeking the destruction of memmorabila that it says infringes on Pez trademarks. The museum has not been served with the suit, so the defendants have yet to respond to the complaint, Cole says.
Alston & Bird IP partners Alan Behr and Jonathan Gordon and associates Larry Johnson and Mitra Eskandari-Azari are representing Pez. Behr, who once served as the chief legal officer of Atari, another cult classic brand, told The Am Law Daily that he needed to confer with client before commenting.
Pez, whose status as a pop culture icon was revived in the 1990s partly because of a seminal Seinfeld episode, derives its name from an abbreviation of the German word for "peppermint."
Photo: Burlingame Museum of Pez MemorabiliaMake a comment