Ketchup Maker Can't Ride Along, Heinz Says

DALLAS (CN) - H.J. Heinz Co. claims in court that a spicy ketchup maker's bottle design is too close to Heinz's recognizable glass ketchup bottle.
     Pittsburgh-based Heinz sued Figueroa Brothers Inc., of Irving, Texas, in Federal Court on Thursday.
     Figueroa makes and sells a line of Melinda's All Natural ketchups that feature spicy peppers, including habanero, jalapeño, chipotle, Naga Jolokia, and ghost peppers, according to its website.
     Heinz says in the complaint: "Despite using typical, non-distinctive bottle designs for its non-ketchup goods, defendant's ketchup products are marketed, distributed, and sold in a bottle design nearly identical to the Heinz bottle marks. ...
     "Defendant's unauthorized use of the infringing bottle design enables defendant to trade on and receive the benefit of goodwill built up at great labor and expense by Heinz over many years, and to gain acceptance for its products not solely on their own merits, but on the reputation and goodwill of Heinz, its Heinz bottle marks, and its products."
     Heinz claims its bottle design is "inherently distinctive," dating back to the 1890s. Heinz has sold hundreds of millions of such bottles and the ketchup inside them.
     Figueroa Brothers did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.
     Heinz seeks damages for trademark infringement and dilution, unfair competition and unjust enrichment. It also seeks a permanent injunction and the destruction of the infringing bottles and material bearing the design.
     Heinz is represented by Louis Pirkey with Pirkey Barber in Austin.