A Wisconsin federal judge issued a temporary restraining order last month against a Wisconsin creamery for their use of the “Irishgold” Irish butter trademark and associated packaging. Irish dairy distributor Ornua Foods North America Inc. filed suit for willful trademark infringement against Old World Creamery LLC and Eurogold USA LLC, asserting that Old World’s butter brand was created to intentionally ride on the coattails of, and is confusingly similar to, Ornua’s KerryGold butter. The dispute between butter brands arose following a shortage of Irish butter in the state of Wisconsin. Following failed negotiations between the two butter entities to process Kerrygold locally in order to comply with Wisconsin dairy regulations, Kerrygold alleges that the makers of Irishgold created a nearly identical product to compete against it in the Wisconsin marketplace. In granting the TRO, the court determined that Ornua had a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits and that it would “suffer irreparable harm and loss to their services, reputation, and goodwill” if Defendants were permitted to continue to use the IRISHGOLD mark and associated packaging relating to their sale of Irish butter.

Takeaway: Advertisers should take care in developing packaging and color schemes which may be similar to competitors.