Procter & Gamble has filed a lawsuit against Vi-Jon Inc. alleging that the company’s bottles mimic Head & Shoulders containers.
Vi-Jon makes private-label products, licensed products, plus the Germ-X, Swan, Sonoma Spa and Alpine X-treme brands, sold in Dollar General, CVS and Kroger.
P&G says that the company’s bottles mimic the shape, colors and label of Head & Shoulders dandruff shampoo.
“We invest heavily in all aspects of our product, and its appearance has become inextricably linked with what we stand for to our consumers,” said Deborah P. Majoras, chief legal officer at P&G. “When a competitor makes products that come too close to our legally protected trademarks and trade dress, it’s unfair to consumers, and to our employees and shareholders, and we will challenge those violations.
Vi-Jon did not immediately return a call for comment.
P&G starting developing Head & Shoulders in 1950, the company said in the lawsuit, using pyrithione zinc as a key ingredient. In the U.S., the brand leads the antidandruff shampoo category, according to P&G, which said it had $600 million in sales between 2012 and 2015. The shampoo comes in a white bottle with flat right side, convex left side and translucent blue cap.
“Vi-Jon has supplied to retailers…private label versions of Head & Shoulders hair care products in packaging that is substantially similar to the Head & Shoulders trade dress,” P&G alleges in the suit.
P&G is alleges federal unfair competition, trademark dilution, common law trademark infringement, among other claims. The company is seeking damages in an amount to be determined by Vi-Jon’s profits, plus attorneys’ fees, according to the suit.
Head & Shoulders is one of the beauty brands that P&G held on to during its portfolio realignment, under which the consumer packaged goods giant sold many businesses in order to focus on 10 key categories. The company recently closed the sale of its specialty beauty portfolio, including CoverGirl, Wella and the Hugo Boss fragrance license, to Coty Inc.