Candy maker Wrigley accuses hemp, marijuana company of ripping off Skittles trademark

The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., a giant candy and gum manufacturer, filed a lawsuit Monday against Terphogz LLC, a Mendocino County, California, hemp and marijuana company, claiming that the company’s “Zkittlez” brand name and the marketing surrounding it violates Wrigley’s trademark for the Skittles candy brand.

The lawsuit brings seven claims against Terphogz, according to Law360, which first reported the story.

According to the lawsuit, filed in a Chicago federal court, Wrigley – a unit of the privately held Mars Inc. – said it had “invested nearly 50 years and hundreds of millions of dollars carefully cultivating the goodwill symbolized by the Skittles mark,” and that its “Taste the rainbow” slogan for the candy is one of the “longest-running, successful campaigns” in advertising.

Wrigley contends that Terphogz “helped itself” to the Skittles brand marketing strategy, with its Zkittlez name brand and “TaztetheZtrainBro” hashtag.

“Unscrupulous companies like Terphogz who push drugs and drug paraphernalia using trademarks belonging to confectionery companies pose a danger to children,” Wrigley argues.

Terphogz social media posts from 2020 indicate the company plans to offer hemp flower and pre-rolls.

Oddly, Terphogz mentioned the older candy-maker in 2019 when it unsuccessfully applied for a Zkittlez trademark from the U.S. Patent and Trade Office.

Terphogz said that Skittles “is well known for the colorful candy that [Wrigley] produces” and “is most likely considered famous under
Trademark law for candy,” according to the complaint.

Wrigley is seeking unspecified damages and wants Zkittlez to destroy all branded merchandise.

The case does not involve William “Beau” Wrigley Jr., CEO of Parallel, a Florida-based marijuana cultivator and retailer. Beau Wrigley is the heir of the Wrigley Jr. Co. but is no longer involved in the candy company.