Brawny and Bounty in Legal Squabble Over Paper-Towel Patterns

Who Knew? There's a Lawsuit Frenzy in Paper-Products Aisle

By Published on .

Those little quilts on paper towels and toilet paper are turning out to be a very big deal in federal courts.

Procter & Gamble Co. filed suit May 8 against Georgia-Pacific in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati alleging bow-tie patterns in new-and-improved Brawny paper towels infringe the trademark bow-tie shapes in the quilts of P&G's Bounty Extra Soft.

Brawny's "Great New Look" is "an obvious attempt to trade on the goodwill, reputation and commercial success achieved by Bounty Extra Soft," P&G says in its lawsuit.

Paper Towel patterns

"We disagree with those allegations and we believe P&G's complaint is entirely merit-less," a G-P spokeswoman said. "We plan to defend the lawsuit vigorously."

It's the latest in a series of lawsuits among the paper powers. After G-P sued P&G in March alleging false advertising by Bounty, P&G settled, agreeing to modify claims. That suit alleged that while the quilts may have been thicker on improved Bounty, the towels weren't.

G-P also sued Kimberly-Clark Corp. April 18 in federal court in Atlanta alleging quilt shapes on Cottonelle Ultra toilet paper infringe on diamond patterns of G-P's Quilted Northern.

"To make matters worse, Kimberly-Clark's new packaging ... prominently features a dog snuggled in a quilt with a diamond design," G-P notes in its complaint.

A K-C spokesman said as a matter of policy the company doesn't comment on pending litigation.

G-P's also sued P&G in October alleging Charmin infringed its trademark diamond shapes. P&G settled that suit in December, according to G-P, pledging to modify its design.

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