Procter & Gamble files lawsuit regarding oral rinse

Feb. 15, 2006
Company claims that private label manufacturer "infringed and diluted the unique trade dress of P&G's Crest Pro-Health."

CINCINNATI--The Procter & Gamble Company has filed a lawsuit against a private label manufacturer of health and beauty products, Vi-Jon Industries, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The lawsuit alleges that Vi-Jon infringed and diluted the unique trade dress of P&G's Crest Pro-Health, a highly effective antiplaque/antigingivitis oral rinse, and also engaged in false advertising of its mouthwash product. The Vi-Jon product is sold in retail stores under store brand names.

"We had to take this action to protect our business and the interests of our consumers," stated Diane Dietz, general manager North America oral care. Conduct from private label manufacturers that can mislead consumers cannot be tolerated. P&G invests heavily in research, development, and intellectual property and design, and must protect that investment."

The lawsuit specifically alleges that Vi-Jon's packaging of its mouthwash product mimics many aspects of P&G's packaging, including P&G's distinctive "faceted diamond" bottle shape, the precise shade of blue mouthwash rinse, and the shape, metallic finish and general color scheme of the label.

The lawsuit also alleges Vi-Jon's label communicates (i) that the Vi-Jon product is comparable to P&G's Crest Pro-Health, and (ii) that the Vi-Jon product is effective in killing germs that cause plaque and gingivitis. In fact, P&G's testing shows that Vi-Jon's product is not comparable to Crest Pro-Health and is not effective in reducing plaque or gingivitis to a meaningful degree.

The lawsuit seeks to enjoin Vi-Jon from this conduct. It also seeks to recover damages for unfair competition and violations of P&G's intellectual property rights.