It’s the battle of the battery bunnies. Energizer, owned by Energizer Holdings Inc., is suing Procter & Gamble’s Duracell brand.
The charge: Duracell’s non-US bunny-branded packaging is allegedly being sold in the US and undermining Energizer’s iconic pink bunny. The “public is likely mistakenly to believe Duracell’s products originate from or are affiliated, connected, or associated with Energizer or the Energizer Bunny Trademark,” Energizer claims in its suit.
The upshot: Energizer says the Duracell bunny is too similar to its trademarked sunglasses-wearing, drum-beating pink rabbit. Energizer has several federally-registered trademarks in the US for its bunny mascot.
Energizer’s lawsuit claims that Duracell’s non-US bunny-branded packaging—found in the UK, Latin America and other non-American markets—is in fact widely available in America, with its presence confusing customers with its pink bunny mascot and undercutting its sales.
“Duracell’s motivation for knowingly violating Energizer’s rights and misleading the public is reflected in its long history of unfair competition and deceptive trade practices,” its lawsuit states. Gillette bought Duracell in 1996; P&G acquired Gillette in 2005.
Ad Age notes that Duracell’s bunny was registered internationally in 1989 but Energizer (which has been quiet on social media lately) beat it to the punch in the US home market—sparking a 1992 agreement between the companies prohibiting the Duracell bunny from the US.
“A lawsuit filed in Missouri against Proctor & Gamble claimed that Duracell batteries featuring the bunny were cropping up in US stores, being guided by third-party sales from international markets Energizer claims could be controlled by P&G.”
The brand seeks to block (and recall) all bunny-branded Duracell products in the US and receive an undisclosed amount in damages for supposed lost sales.
Energizer’s lawsuit names as defendants Procter & Gamble Co., Gillette Co. and Duracell U.S.
Complicating matters further in 2014 P&G agreed to sell Duracell to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway—a transaction that it is expected to close in by the middle of this year.