Candy Companies Fight E-Cigarettes to Protect Names

E-cigarettes have been trying to brand with candy names
Wikimedia/Lauri Rantala

Some e-cigarette companies have been making flavored nicotine liquids and naming them after famous candies.

E-cigarettes can be flavored to taste like almost anything, but the habit of naming them after famous candy brands has ruffled some feathers among the country’s candy manufacturers.

According to the Associated Press, several major manufacturers including General Mills, Tootsie Roll Industries, and the Girl Scouts of America have filed cease and desist letters to protect their brands against e-cigarette companies giving their nicotine liquids given cute, trademarked names like “Cinnamon Toast Crunch,” “Thin Mint,” or “Tootsie Roll.”

"Using the Thin Mint name—which is synonymous with Girl Scouts and everything we do to enrich the lives of girls—to market e-cigarettes to youth is deceitful and shameless," said Girl Scouts spokeswoman Kelly Parisi.

In the U.S., fruit- and candy-flavored cigarettes are not allowed on the grounds that those flavors could appeal to children, but the Food and Drug Administration does not yet regulate flavors of nicotine liquids in e-cigarettes.

Linc Williams, an executive at NicVape Inc. and a member of the board of the American E-Liquid Manufacturing Standards Association, said his own company would be backing off names that are similar to trademarked candies and would start removing names and advertising images of things like gummy bears, which could be attractive to children. But according to Williams, e-cigarette manufacturers are unlikely to start changing the product names on their own unless the trademark holders actively step in to “assert their intellectual property.” And it looks like that’s exactly what they’re doing.

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"Our big concern is we have to protect the trademark," said Ellen Gordon, president and COO of Tootsie Roll. "When you have well-known trademarks, one of your responsibilities is to protect (them) because it's been such a big investment over the years."