Pepperidge Farm sues Trader Joe's over Milano cookie look-alike

Trader Joe’s ‘Milano Cookie’ Prompts Lawsuit From Pepperidge Farm Citing Trademark Violations

Maybe it’s just me, but I totally misunderstood the headline. I originally thought that Trader Joe’s was actually selling a cookie labeled as Milano that looked similar to Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies. I guess I improperly parsed the scare quotes. But no, they are selling a cookie that looks like it under the name “Crispy Cookies” and PF is suing them for trademark violation.

Pepperidge Farm sues Trader Joe’s over Milano cookie (This is actually a much better article, but I included the original because that was the one on Google News that I first saw.)

Weak sauce. Shit, Oreo cookies are iconic and Nabisco stole the Hydrox lock, stock and barrel. Walk down any supermarket aisle and there are store brand equivalents of practically everything, sold right next to the name brand stuff and much more blatantly ripping off the actual trademarks. Wegmans has Mountain-W, Dr.W and W-Up soft drinks.

Can the way a cookie looks be trademarked? You can’t copyright or trademark a recipe. What do you think is the goal here for PF? A judge decides that Crispy Cookies are too oval? “You can make them rounder or more rectangular, but these are way too oval! Court finds in favor of the plaintiff.”

My completely unfounded suspicion is that this is a grudge suit over a failed distribution negotiation. Regardless of motivation, this doesn’t leave me with a favorable opinion of Pepperidge Farm.

I thought Apple owned the patent on the rectangle…

Yeah, definitely some weak shit there.

The packaging is also trademarked. That’s a part of the suit. I think it has merit.

Pepperidge Farm Accusing Trader Joe’s Of Ripping Off Its Milano Cookie

Still not seeing it. I’m not saying that the cookie is not a knockoff. It absolutely is. However, I think you would have a tough time convincing a judge or jury that the packaging is damaging Pepperidge Farm’s goodwill and confusing shoppers.

Well, sure. The packaging can be trademarked. But the cookie? There’s nothing distinctive about it at all.

Though could it be a case of trying to cover everything, hoping that one of them sticks? Exploiting the desire to compromise can be quite effective.

The news I saw last night (glad the networks are covering the important shit these days) showed the two packages. From what I recall seeing there was no way I would have confused one for the other.

Yep. Just saw Jake Jones link. You’d have to be retarded and nearly blind to confuse those two packages.

Their trademark could cover the design of the cookie. They aren’t identical but close enough that someone could think the Trader Joe’s cookies are Milanos if they are out of the package. Pepperidge Farms doesn’t have to prove damages I believe, simply infringement. And Pepperidge Farms has to enforce their trademark through lawsuits like this because there’s no Trademark Police™ to do it for them. If they don’t and someone else makes a Milano-ish cookie they’ll just claim that there’s nothing all that distinct about Milano cookies because Trader Joe’s is selling another similar style.

Thanks for reporting on this. Now I have to pick up some “Crispy Cookies” next time I’m at Trader Joe’s. We’re big fans of TJ’s Joe-Joes, their knock-off of the Oreo at my house, and TJ’s house brands are usually very high quality and much cheaper than the originals in ordinary supermarkets.

I ate a bag of animal crackers for Thanksgiving, but there weren’t any fish-shaped animal crackers. Does Pepperidge Farms own a trademark for fish-shaped cookies too?

Could someone get away with making cheesy fish-shaped cookies if one applied a bluish food coloring to them and marketed them as “Neon Tetras”?

If it’s a distinguishable, well known and unique expression of a particular product then it can be trademarked. Trademarks allow you to prevent people from selling look-alikes of your product. It’s a reasonable protection given a sufficiently established association of a design or name with a product.

ETA: Here in the wikiyou can see that it’s about identifying the source of a product. Consider that the Trader Joe’s cookies may be of inferior quality to the real Milano’s. Someone eating a cookie that did not see the packaging might associate the poor quality of the cookie with Pepperidge Farm.

I am a fan of Pepperidge Farm because they are yummy and from CT. But this is crazy. Confused shoppers. PF must think we are stupid shoppers. The package is vaguely similar. But the cookies look different enough. Maybe I will get called to be on the jury:D

I would like to do a taste comparison but Trader Joe’s is too far away. :frowning:

What if the knock off was arguably a BETTER product?

Your good cookies are giving our shitty cookies a BAD name!

There’s already a product out there called “Whales” (available at places like Dollar General, Family Dollar, etc.) that is basically the budget rip-off of Goldfish. Personally, I prefer them to Pepperidge Farms version. They taste about the same and Whales are usually only 1.00 a box.

Like how?

They are both bags. With pictures of the cookies (in different sexual positions for Petes sake). And these fancy things called words made out of letters on the front.

That’s more or less what happened with the above mentioned Hydro/Oreo example.

It is chastening to realise how awful some lives are: imagine patrolling the gargoyle infested aisles of supermarkets to determine which products look like other products.


I noticed that according to the article this style of cookie has been around since 1956 (at least). Yet they trademarked it in 2010. Any sympathy I have for them just lessened a bit more.

Even worse. Arguing about it on the internet :slight_smile:

So, the packaging is part of the trademark, or it isn’t? Or are you saying that it is when it’s convenient for the plaintiff’s argument and irrelevant when inconvenient to the plaintiff’s argument?

Look, I’m not a lawyer, but this is not the standard for manufactured food. There are store brands and even competitive national brand equivalents of tons of food products. Once out of the box, how can I tell the difference between Triscuits and any other woven wheat cracker? Somebody mentioned Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Crackers. Why haven’t they sued Stauffers? Because actual goldfish are tiny and actual whales are huge so they couldn’t be confused or because Goldfish come in orange bags and Whales come in blue boxes?

Speaking of cheddar cheese crackers, you think you could eyeball the difference between Cheese-It ,Cheese Nips and Walmart brand Cheddar Cheese Baked Snack Crackers? Wow, I see a lot of similarity there between packaging and product appearance.

You’re appealing to a standard that simply does not apply to manufactured food.