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Scotts Miracle-Gro Sues Terra Cycle

Small Organic Fertilizer company whose products are made from earthworm droppings is being sued by industry giant Scotts

COMPANY PACKAGES ITS PLANT FERTILIZER IN REUSED SODA BOTTLES

BY RIDER THOMPSON

TerraCycle a small New Jersey-based organic plant-food company is being sued by industry giant Scotts Miracle-Gro.

TerraCycle® plant and lawn fertilizers are based on a formula made from earthworm droppings and are packaged and sold in recycled soda bottles collected from all over the country.  The company boasts its entire product is made from waste.

Scotts Miracle-Gro (who we mentioned recently for taking enviro babysteps in its industry) claims TerraCycle’s packaging infringes on the “distinctive and famous trade dress” of Miracle-Gro®.

Scotts claims that TerraCycle’s use of yellow and green in its packaging too closely resembles its star Miracle-Gro® product line.

In addition, the 177 page complaint filed in the US District Court of New Jersey alleges false advertising for claims the company made saying its product is “superior and safer” to that of competitors.

The complaint filed by OMS Investments & The Scotts company also alleges violations of “Trade Dress Dilution, New Jersey Fair Trade Act and Unjust Enrichment”

PACKAGING COMPARISON 

TerraCycle denies Scotts claims and has created a website:  www.suedbyscotts.com to showcase its side of the story.  The website contains a PDF file with photos of over 80 similar fertilizer products that use yellow and green in their packaging.

It appears from looking at the complaint and the numerous other brands currently on the market which use a yellow and green color scheme that the real issue here is Scotts concern over protecting its new Organic Choice (TM) brand of Miracle-Gro products.  The real issue here seems to be competition for market share in a rapidly growing industry – organic plant and lawn fertilizers.

According to a recent Business Week story Scotts sales of its Organic Choice line have increased 200% in the last year.

TerraCycle’s sales have also increased and the company’s products are now available at a growing number of large retailers including Home Depot stores.  The TerraCycle plant food was featured this Sunday in circulars across the country as part of Home Depot’s new Eco Options label that was introduced this week in the US.

This is a fascinating story.

Check out Web X.0 for more coverage of TerraCycle and its branding.

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