Published on April 27th, 2010 | by Jennifer Lance
Clorox Accuses Method of Violating Federal Laws Over Daisy Label
It’s an old story: a major corporation targets its small competition over alleged trademark infringement. McDonald’s attacked McDharma’s, a vegetarian fast food restaurant in Santa Cruz, California over “Mc”. Now, Clorox is targeting Method environmentally cleaning products for using a yellow daisy image similar to one found on their Green Works products.
Threatening injunction, Clorox is demanding Method “cease and desist from from any and all other acts of dilution, infringement or unfair competition with Clorox”. Method’s response:
recently, our friends at clorox® sent us a letter telling
us that we don’t own the rights to the daisy, and we agree.
but we don’t think they do either. we believe the daisy
belongs to mother nature.
we never considered that a corporation could claim ownership
of nature’s design. we figured that would be like trying to claim
rights on the cucumber or the question mark.
Clorox introduced its “environmentally-friendly” cleaning products two years ago. The products include Sierra Club endorsement, much to the surprise of environmentalists, but bloggers were not convinced. Really Natural wrote:
I do not care if Greenworks products are endorsed by the Sierra Club, I have suspected Clorox’s “natural” line from their introduction. I finally have tried one of their products, the natural dishwashing liquid, and my family hates it! It smells exactly like unnatural products and has a green color that I find suspect. Dishes require serious rinsing to remove the soap residue and smell, and my daughter complained her water bottle tasted like dish soap after I used it…Perhaps directions should say rinse your dishes 20 times to remove residue, which would defeat the whole eco-friendly aspect by wasting water.
American Public Radio adds:
When you look at a product label, what would you think if you saw your favorite environmental non-profit logo? Wouldn’t you think,hey, this product is probably better, safer or greener than its competitors? Well, more than 17 state attorneys general thought so in a killer report on the pitfalls of cause-marketing (that’s when corporations or other private interests financially support non-profit work). The problem is that the non-profit and corporation typically have an exclusive licensing agreement which raises issues about product endorsement and the extent to which your purchase really helps the non-profit and its mission.
In contrast, Method products have earned the trust of consumers without relying on endorsements from large environmental groups.
If Clorox really wants to talk about unfair marketing, perhaps they should remove the daisy from their products, as Method began using the image over six years ago. Clorox writes to Method:
In light of the high degree of similarity between our respective flower design marks, and the identical nature of our respective natural cleaning products, we believe that your company’s use of the yellow daisy in connection with cleaning products is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, or to deceive the consuming public as to the source, sponsorship, or affiliation of your products in violation of Clorox’s rights under the Lanham Act and other applicable Federal and State laws.
Clorox would be better off using their energy to improve their environmental record than attacking a company that is working hard environmentally and socially. Clorox should stop selling and reformulate products that are known to damage the environment and are bad for our health. Not a single Method product contains 2-butoxyethanol, like Formula 409.