You would think that a cigarette manufacturer and a lighter company would get along like two peas in a pod but that isn’t the case. A subsidiary of Lorillard Tobacco that makes e-cigarettes and Zippo lighter are both suing each other over the use of the mark, BLU
Zippo is the most famous distributor of lighters in the world. In 2004, Zippo started to produce a butane torch lighter that emits flames that appear blue. In 2007, in association with the launch of the product, Zippo registered the trademark BLU. In 2009, two years after the launch of the lighter, a company later purchased by Lorillard, started using the same mark in association with its e-cigarettes and attempted to register its BLU trademark; the name also came from the color that the e-cigarette emits. That’s when the battle of the paperwork commenced. Zippo opposed attempts to register the mark; Lorillard hit back with a lawsuit for declaratory judgment requesting a ruling that the marks are not confusingly similar; and Zippo returned serve with a lawsuit for trademark infringement. Zippo claims that there has been documented consumer confusion with people thinking the e-cigarette is associated with the Zippo brand, when it is not. In the below, Zippo’s BLU trademark in on the left.
The stakes are high for both sides as last year e-cigarettes were a $1 billion industry. Previous attempts to smoke the peace pipe and come up with a resolution failed so this case might be a long battle.