Speaking of “consumer confusion” (and the pitfalls of packaging that might be mistaken for a different brand) — here’s a bit more about a 1962 trademark infringement case that we wrote about last year. (See: Holiday vs. Vacation)
To recap: the design of S.C. Johnson’s “Holiday” car-wash cream’s packaging, with its “captive-cap high-density polyethylene squeeze bottle” was celebrated in a cover story in a 1961 issue of Modern Packaging Magazine.
One year later, the same magazine, mentions “Holiday” car-wash cream packaging again in a 1962 article about packaging and trademark litigation, citing S.C. Johnson’s litigation with Westley Industries over a competing brand of car wash cream.
Using a trademark name, synonymous with Johnson’s Holiday, using a similarly casual logotype of bouncy, multicolor letters, using the same basic layout (manufacture’s logo on top, followed underneath by brand trademark, then a dark bar/swash with knock-out type, then some product description, then some small illustrations of cars, with product benefits, etc. at the bottom), printed on a nearly identical plastic bottle with a “captive cap” and concentric ribbing at the shoulder — the packaging for Westley’s “Vacation” car wash cream appeared to be an unabashed attempt to resemble, as much as possible, Holiday car wash cream.
When I wrote about this last year, I was frustrated not to have found any color photos of the trademark-infringing “Vacation” car wash bottle. Recently, however, I did find some black & white newspaper ads, showing us just how similar their packaging was.
(Some car-wash cream advertising, after the fold…)
Remarkably, the ad at the very top demonstrates the degree to which the public was likely to regard these products as equivalent: both products listed, one above the other, sharing the same 49¢ price!