This Week in Intellectual Property History

On October 19, 1926, Lysol Incorporated received a registration for the logo identifying its brand of antiseptic cleanser:

                                       
The LYSOL trademark was first registered in 1906. For many years, LYSOL had no serious competition in its market. But then PINESOL was introduced. The owners of the LYSOL trademark have been battling the owners of the PINE-SOL trademark ever since. When the maker of PINE-SOL products initially attempted to register the PINE-SOL mark in the 1950s, the owner of the LYSOL mark opposed the registration. The Examiner in Chief of the U.S. Patent Office denied registration of PINE-SOL on account of what the Examiner determined to be a confusing similarity between the PINE-SOL and LYSOL marks. At the time, PINE-SOL was written as one word, similar to the way LYSOL appears. The Examiner reasoned that “Pine” can be slurred as “Pi” and “Pi-Sol” can thereby be confused with “LYSOL.”
Despite the Examiner’s decision, the owners of the PINE-SOL mark continued to use it. The companies that have owned these marks have been in an almost constant state of litigation, with occasional truces called through co-existence agreements. These truces have permitted PINE-SOL to be registered, but it seems that every decade or so the battle flares up anew when a new Lysol or Pine-Sol product is introduced. Today the LYSOL brand is owned by Linden Corporation, an affiliate of Reckitt & Colman, Inc., while PINE-SOL is owned by the Clorox Company. They can be thought of as the Hatfields and McCoys of U.S. trademark law.

 

Make some Intellectual Property History this week!

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