Dairy Queen cannot hinder W.B. Mason Co from selling bottled spring water called “Blizzard,” according to a federal judge’s verdict. Blizzard is the same name the Berkshire Hathaway Inc unit calls its famous ice cream product.
On Friday, a 217-page decision was publicly released, in which US District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled a lack of evidence that customers grew confused by the Blizzards or that W.B. Mason had the intention to confuse consumers.
Dairy Queen started to use the Blizzard name in 1946 and possesses five Blizzard trademarks.
Though recognizing that W.B. Mason, which has two Blizzard trademarks, is not a direct competitor, Dairy Queen stated that customers might be confused due to its US restaurants selling bottled water.
However, the judge stated that the products had “very different audience appeal” and have both existed for 11 years even with proof that Dairy Queen’s Blizzard had reached “iconic” status – with estimated US sales of $1.1 billion in 2020.
“Dairy Queen introduced no evidence of an actual association between the two products,” Nelson said in a statement. “If association were to occur, in all likelihood, it would have occurred by now.”
After 12 days of non-jury hearing with 30 witnesses, the judge issued a verdict last fall. The decision is dated June 10; however, it was made private for a week. The lawsuit started in March 2018.
Dairy Queen stated that it was dismayed and assessing whether to appeal and would “vigorously enforce our rights when necessary” to safeguard the franchisees.
In a statement, a Nixon Peabody partner representing W.B. Mason, Jason Kravitz, described the decision as “a supremely satisfying and hard-fought win.”
Blizzard (Dairy Queen’s) has soft-serve ice cream with various blends like fruit, nuts, M&Ms, Oreos, and other mix-ins.