The Beech-Nut Nutrition Co. has filed a complaint against an organic babyfood maker seeking a declaration that Beech-Nut has not infringed any of Plum PBC’s trademarks and that the trademarks Plum has asserted to the word “JUST” and certain phrases are invalid. Beech-Nut Nutrition Co. v. Plum PBC, No. 14-0791 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D.N.Y., filed June 30, 2014).
According to the complaint, Plum sent Beech-Nut a cease-and-desist letter in June 2014 shortly after Beech-Nut launched a new line of whole fruit and vegetable foods for babies including the word “just” on product labels and advertised them under a promotional campaign “This is not baby food” and “This is real food for babies.” The letter allegedly demanded that Beech-Nut stop infringing Plum’s “JUST” trademark and using the promotional phrases.
Beech-Nut contends that (i) the word “just” is simply descriptive and generic; (ii) Plum does not use the trademark symbol beside the word on its product labels; (iii) there is no likelihood of marketplace confusion between the products, which have distinctive promotional materials and packaging; and (iv) Plum has never used the promotional phrases that Beech-Nut uses in connection with its baby-food products. Beech-Nut seeks a declaratory judgment of unenforceability and non-infringement, the cancellation of two U.S. registrations for “JUST,” and attorney’s fees and costs.