Legal Fight Over Design Of Disposable Coffee Cups

from the is-no-competition-allowed? dept

Whatever happened to actually competing in the market place? Copycense points us to a recent legal battle between Dixie and Huhtamaki over the design of their disposable coffee cups. Seriously. Dixie claimed that Huhtamaki violated its trade dress because its cups, like Dixie's, included a white band at the bottom of the cup. After two years in court, the judge, thankfully, didn't see what the big deal was over both cups having a white strip at the bottom and ruled against Dixie. In part, the judge noted, Dixie never proved that the white strip was non-functional, which is important, since trade dress is supposed to be for non-functional design elements:
Dixie even provided alternative designs for Huhtamaki to adopt to differentiate its cup from Dixie's, according to the judge's order.

"Because Huhtamaki would either incur additional costs or sacrifice design quality if it were forced to adopt one of Dixie's alternative designs, the court finds that the product feature in question is functional under the traditional test."
Still, just the fact that lawsuits like this even exist in the first place shows how far gone these things have gone. It's as if every company feels entitled to having no competition whatsoever, and will sue anyone who offers anything remotely similar. What a sad state of affairs.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: cups, trade dress, white stripe
Companies: dixie, huhtamaki

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Thread

  1. identicon
    Mr Fnortner, 20 Mar 2010 @ 10:08pm


    Don't confuse this with capitalism. This is mercantilism or government protectionism. The only possible way for this problem to exist is for the practice to be protected by government sanction. The Constitution is one source of this protection--and sadly this is one place where Madison and the founders got it wrong. Intellectual property is not property and should never have been protected. Business people sit on their butts and fend off competition with lawsuits rather than fight it out in the marketplace only because the government collaborates with them in this endeavor by offering them cover for this practice. This is a shameful use of coercive powers.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.