Medical marijuana company fires back at Hershey over pot-candy lawsuit


Sometimes you feel like a lawsuit. Sometimes you don’t. (U.S. District Court documents)

This post has been updated.

TinctureBelle, the medical marijuana company sued by Hershey for trademark infringement, claims that its pot-candy products abandoned any Hershey similarities long ago.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver last week, the Hershey Co. alleged that TinctureBelle’s weed-infused snacks — including Ganja Joy, Hashees and Hasheath — not only used names that were reminiscent of popular Hershey candies, but that their packaging was deceptively similar, too.

Now, in a statement, TinctureBelle says the packaging was changed several months before Hershey filed suit.

“The lawsuit from Hershey came as a huge surprise to us,” TinctureBelle President Char Mayes said in the statement. “Because we changed our entire label line approximately 6 months ago, long before these allegations surfaced last week. Our new packaging looks nothing like Hershey’s or anyone else’s.”

Here’s what the new packaging looks like, courtesy of photos provided by the TinctureBelle to The Post:


(Tincturebelle)


See? Different.

In addition to the packaging changes, the company said it also changed the name of its “medicated chocolate and English toffee” from Hasheath to Hasheats.

In its lawsuit, the Hershey Co. says the packaging is not only a clear trademark violation, but also a safety risk to consumers — especially children — “who may not distinguish between Hershey’s candy products and defendants’ cannabis- and/or tetrahydrocannabinol-based products.”

In his statement, Mayes said TinctureBelle uses heat-sealed, non-transparent, child-proof packaging for its products, which, he said, are sold in Colorado’s medical marijuana dispensaries and to patients with Colorado-approved medical marijuana cards.

“The suggestion made by some media reports that our products are available to children, and even sold side-by-side with Hershey products, is dumbfounding, and shows a profound lack of awareness of how infused cannabis products are regulated, manufactured, and sold under Colorado’s strict regulatory regime,” Mayes said.

We’ve reached out to the Hershey Co. for comment and will update when we get it.

Hershey also recently sued a Maryland state senator, Stephen Hershey, for using a chocolate-colored, Hershey-bar-resembling sign in his campaign.

The company, which has tangled with Sen. Hershey before, filed a claim in District Court in Maryland, asking a judge to force him to change his campaign signs.


Candy bar or campaign sign? (U.S. District Court documents)

Jeff Beckman, spokesman for the Hershey company, responded in a statement:

“We believe this is a clear case of trademark infringement and dilution,” said Beckman, who is Director of Corporate Communications for Hershey. “TinctureBelle has used Hershey’s trademarks without authorization.  The court will decide if they have infringed on our valuable trademarks.”

Abby Phillip is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. Before that, she covered politics at ABC News and Politico. She can be reached at abby.phillip@washpost.com. On Twitter: @abbydphillip

 

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