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Kind Snacks sues Clif Bar over alleged copycatting

Kind has alleged that Clif Bar's new Mojo packaging infringes several trademarks Kind has on its packaging design, including the clear front pack window and health attributes listed on a black background
Kind has alleged that Clif Bar's new Mojo packaging infringes several trademarks Kind has on its packaging design, including the clear front pack window and health attributes listed on a black background

Kind Snacks has filed a lawsuit against Clif Bar for allegedly infringing its packaging trademarks.

Kind said it hoped the lawsuit, filed in a New York federal court last week, would prevent Clif Bar launching its newly-designed Mojo snack bars which Kind claimed are copycat products.

Kind has claimed that Clif’s new Mojo packaging copies several key elements of Kind’s trade dress, including a rectangular transparent window on the front panel to show the bar and a horizontal stripe front-of-pack that calls out the flavor and product description. It has also taken issue with the bulleted list of key health attributes set against a black background that feature on the new Mojo design.

In a statement, Kind Snacks founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky said: “Clif is a long-standing and well-respected competitor in the nutritional marketplace, which makes this imminent release of a copycat product particularly disappointing.”

The company’s vice president and general counsel Justin Mervis added that Kind was prepared to “vigorously defend its hard earned goodwill and brand value against anyone that seeks unfairly to dilute or detract from the Kind brand”.

Mervis coined Clif’s Mojo packaging “deceptive” and said it was “confusingly similar” which, he claimed, could mislead consumers. “While Kind welcomes competition, Kind insists that such competition be fair and not based on consumer deception,” he said.

Asked for more details about the move to sue Clif Bar, Kind Snacks spokesperson Erin Schanke told BakeryandSnacks.com: “Given the lawsuit is still pending, I am unfortunately not at liberty to speak further.”

Kind snack bar packaging

Copycat has been done instead of innovating, claims Kind

Kind has alleged that the Mojo revamp was in response to Clif losing market share to Kind in the healthy snack bars sector. It said that, rather than innovating, Clif has opted to launch a new line that “abandons the traditional look and feel of the Clif and Mojo brands and instead coopts the look of Kind”.

Kind said the new design “reflects a new and dramatic leap over the line in what appears to have been a calculated progression of incremental changes, designed 

Mojo snack bar packaging

each time to get closer and closer to the trade dress of Kind bars and farther and farther from the package design elements that would associate the product with the Clif brand”.

Clif ranked just behind General Mills that had a 22.2% retail value share of the overall snack bar segment, and Kellogg that held a 20.8% share. It placed significantly ahead of Kind, which was ranked eighth in 2013, with a 1.7% retail value share.  Clif Bar retail shares in the US were pegged at 12.6% for 2013. For 2013, Clif Bar ranked third in the overall US snack bar market which covers energy and nutrition, breakfast, granola and fruit bars, according to Euromonitor International data.

Within the nutrition and energy bar sector, Clif has remained a leader since 2008 , according to Rabobank data.

According to its CEO Kevin Cleary, Clif Bar has reported a compounded annual growth rate of 17% for the past decade – a growth rate it intends to secure in the future.

Clif ‘excited’ about Mojo launch

In a statement issued to this site, Clif Bar said that it would not comment on the pending legal matter at this point. The company said it will launch a fruit and nut and dark chocolate variant of its newly designed Clif Mojo bars.

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