Get 40% Off
⚠ Earnings Alert! Which stocks are poised to surge?
See the stocks on our ProPicks radar. These strategies gained 19.7% year-to-date.
Unlock full list

Buffett's Dairy Queen loses lawsuit over 'Blizzard' name

Published 06/20/2022, 02:06 PM
Updated 06/20/2022, 02:10 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett enjoys an ice cream treat from Dairy Queen before the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. May 6, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - A federal judge ruled that Dairy Queen cannot stop W.B. Mason Co from selling "Blizzard" bottled spring water, the same name the unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRKa) Inc uses for a popular ice cream product.

In a 217-page decision made public on Friday, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson found a lack of evidence that consumers were confused by the Blizzards or that W.B. Mason, an office products distributor, intended to confuse anyone.

Dairy Queen began using the Blizzard name in 1946 and has five Blizzard trademarks.

While acknowledging that W.B. Mason, which has two trademarks for Blizzard copy paper, was not a competitor, Dairy Queen said consumers might be confused because its U.S. restaurants sell bottled water.

But the judge said the products had "very different audience appeal," and co-existed for 11 years despite evidence that Dairy Queen's Blizzard had achieved "iconic" status, with U.S. sales reaching $1.1 billion in 2020.

"Dairy Queen introduced no evidence of an actual association between the two products," Nelson wrote. "If association were to occur, in all likelihood, it would have occurred by now."

The St. Paul, Minnesota-based judge ruled after a 12-day non-jury trial with 30 witnesses last fall. Her decision is dated June 10 but was sealed for one week. The lawsuit began in March 2018.

In a statement, Dairy Queen said it was disappointed and reviewing whether to appeal and would "vigorously enforce our rights when necessary" to protect franchisees.

Jason Kravitz, a partner at Nixon Peabody representing W.B. Mason, in a statement called the decision "a supremely satisfying and hard-fought win."

Dairy Queen's Blizzard contains soft-serve ice cream that can be blended with fruit, nuts, M&Ms, Oreos and other mix-ins.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett enjoys an ice cream treat from Dairy Queen before the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. May 6, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

Berkshire bought Bloomington, Minnesota-based Dairy Queen in 1998. W.B. Mason is based Brockton, Massachusetts.

The case is American Dairy Queen Corp v. W.B. Mason Co, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, No. 18-00693.

Latest comments

Crazy waste if shareholder money
buffet is also invested in a gaming company called "blizzard" funny how he doesn't have an issue with them
Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.
Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.
Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.
It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.
Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.
© 2007-2024 - Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.